UMass Medical School in Worcester is slated to begin enrolling participants in Moderna's clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine among teenagers next month.
Cambridge-based biotech firm Moderna said adolescents between 12 and 17 will be given its vaccine in hopes it will prove safe and effective enough to be given to teenagers ahead of the 2021 school year.
The study will include 3,000 children, according to its listing on clincaltrials.gov, in what could be the first step in the process of getting young people vaccinated.
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Enrollment will begin at UMass Medical School in February. The trial is set up at 15 sites in the U.S., some of which have already begun their work.
“It’s important because children can, number one, react differently to vaccines than adults,” said Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, the director of the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science and the medical school's principal investigator for the study.
She said she hopes these trials will provide parents with a degree of comfort, if and when the vaccine is approved for children.
“We are committed to getting this study done, not just quickly but also very carefully and in a robust manner,” Luzuriaga said.
Pfizer has said it fully enrolled its COVID vaccine trial in youths 12 to 15 years old. According to a recent report, more than 2.5 million cases of COVID have been reported in children as of Jan. 14 - making up about 13% of all cases.
It remains unclear how long it will take to determine whether the vaccine is safe for children under 16.
Amy Stiner of Lexington is a parent and clinician tied to the University of Illinois who believes in the vaccine so much she drove to Chicago to get her first dose.
"I can honestly say that I would embrace any opportunity to have my son vaccinated,” Stiner said.
Westwood mom of four Nayla Daly says she would jump at the chance to vaccinate her entire family, but she appreciates the additional studies on children before its approved for use in the younger population: “I would definitely like to see the trial data before we move forward with it.”
Luzuriaga said they are hoping to enroll a broad group of participants in the study.
“We want to encourage families who have been most affected by the epidemic to be included in the study,” she said.