INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Pfizer announced the launch of its first clinical trial to assess its vaccine in young children.
The global study includes 144 participants stratified into three categories: 6 months to 2 years old; 2 years to 5 years; and 5 years to 11 years. The study is designed to determine the proper dosage within each age group, which may or may not differ from the dose in adults.
But why is this necessary? Scientists have known for months that young children, in particular, are not considered vulnerable to the coronavirus.
“It’s still a group that we know can get sick,” Dr. John Christenson, pediatric infectious disease physician at Riley Children’s Hospital, told News 8. “But what we are most concerned about is that they can transmit the virus to other people. So, we definitely need to get them vaccinated to keep them healthy, but also at the same time from infecting others.”
Another issue is safety. Parents may be hesitant to enroll their children in this experimental trial. But Christenson assures this research is not built from scratch, but built upon months of ongoing investigation in adults. Before vaccines can be tested in children, he says, they have to be shown to be safe and effective in adults.
“We already have that piece. Now, it’s a matter of moving down to younger ages. Right now, studies are going on for children between 12 and 16 years of age. And what you’d expect is that they would respond similarly to how adults do and will probably get the same dose.”
Pfizer is trying to do the exact same thing as they’ve done in adults and teenagers: figure out the right dose for these younger age groups.
“We don’t know exactly how much of vaccine potency we need to give them,” Christenson added. “So, these trials will use different doses of the vaccine to show which one gives [children] the best protection.”