COVID-19 vaccine trials involving babies now underway

It’s routine for babies to get vaccinated against several illnesses, from the flu to hepatitis B, and a Northern Virginia pediatrician believes COVID-19 vaccines protecting all ages can’t come soon enough.

“All children are vulnerable to this infection,” said Dr. Rebecca E. Levorson, division director for pediatric infectious diseases at Inova Children’s Hospital and Pediatric Specialists of Virginia.

Levorson said herd immunity to stop the pandemic can’t happen until children are vaccinated; they make up about a quarter of the population.

“We also really don’t understand the asymptomatic, or silent burden of this disease. And so that’s something that does worry me. And, I think that’s more of a reason we really need to get kids vaccinated,” she said.

Pfizer and Moderna have COVID-19 vaccine trials underway including for children as young as 12 years old. On Wednesday, Pfizer released as yet unpublished data indicating its vaccine has 100% efficacy among 12- to 15-year-olds.

Levorson is eager for Pfizer to apply for emergency use authorization to allow 12- to 15-year-olds to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have also launched COVID-19 vaccine trials that include young children and babies. Pfizer’s trials, involving children 6 months to 11 years old, began last week. Moderna began trials on children 6 months to less than 12 years old in mid-March.

“But, if we need months of information on those children in the trials, we need to be — I think again — very aggressive like we have been in the adults and older adolescents,” Levorson said.

Johnson & Johnson is considering vaccine trials with people younger than 12. (see p. 34)

Currently in use among teens and adults, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines have emergency use authorization for ages 18 and up. Pfizer’s vaccine has emergency use authorization for ages 16 and up.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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