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Moderna, Pfizer set to expand COVID-19 vaccine study for children under 12 years old

Children as young as 5 years old could receive shot later this year
Child receives vaccine
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 17:50:51-04

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — With school starting just around the corner, more young children will now be included in COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Doctors say the vaccine will better protect children as cases continue to surge in Florida.


Alexis Holcomb of Belle Glade is a mother of three young children.

Her son Austin, 8, has a lung condition, which his mother said makes him fragile. Holcomb decided and plans on getting him vaccinated for coronavirus.

"We're talking about a child who got the flu one year and almost had to be put in an ICU. His lungs can't take the virus," Holcomb said. "That's where my decision base comes from, but I do get it from both points."

Alexis Holcomb, Belle Glade mother who had her 8-year-old son receives COVID-19 vaccine
Alexis Holcomb says she had her 8-year-old son vaccinated for COVID-19.

Holcomb said talking extensively with her doctor played a big factor. She wants Austin to maximize his school learning when school starts again while being protected.

"To where he can go back to school, and get his services, his speech, his physical therapy because you can't really do physical therapy virtually as much as you try. It's hard," Holcomb said.

Moderna and Pfizer plan to expand their COVID-19 vaccine study by enrolling more participants under the age of 12.

"I think what they are going to be looking for, specifically, is the efficacy of the vaccine in that age group," said Dr. Genon Wicina, chairperson for the Department of Pediatrics for Cleveland Clinic Florida.

Many parents have expressed concern and said they don't plan to have their children vaccinated.

"I am more afraid of the children getting the COVID disease and us still not knowing what the long-term effects of that will be. We don't have that data," said Wicina.

Dr. Genon Wicina
Dr. Genon Wicina discusses upcoming COVID-19 vaccine trials in younger children.

For Alexis' two other children, she is going to hold off getting them vaccinated.

"[I'm] not getting it for my younger ones until I knew about the side effects. For him, it's almost like life or death. I rather have the protection than not have it,” said Holcomb.

Moderna said Monday it expects to have enough data to apply for FDA authorization in younger kids by late this year or early 2022.

Pfizer has previously said it expects to apply in September for children ages 5 through 11. Results for two younger age groups that began testing a little later should be available by October or November, according to the company.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, drawing on data posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is tracking the progress in vaccinating U.S. children under age 18.

The report will be updated on the American Academy of Pediatrics website every Friday.

As of July 7, the AAP report finds that 8.5 million U.S. children under the age 18 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This represents 45 percent of 16 to 17-year-olds and 32 percent of 12 to 15-year-olds.

About 6.4 million children are fully vaccinated, representing 36 percent of 16 to 17-year-olds and 24 percent of 12 to 15-year-olds.

The trends indicate a substantial reduction in the uptake of COVID vaccines for children.

The number of new vaccinations in a week dropped from a peak of about 1.6 million at the end of May -- following approval of vaccines to children ages 12 to 15 -- to 333,000 the week ending July 7, according to the report.

AAP recommends that all eligible teens ages 12 and older be vaccinated to prevent COVID-19.