Doctor discusses young son’s experience with U.Md. COVID-19 vaccine trial

Dr. Charles Mugera, a doctor of internal medicine, has an 8-year-old son, Christian, who is taking part in the vaccine trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health. (Courtesy University of Maryland School of Medicine)

It’s expected that the Food and Drug Administration could grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children age 12 to 15 as early as next week. In Maryland, a clinical trial of the Moderna vaccine is already underway, and one parent — who is also a physician — discussed his 8-year-old son’s experience with the trial.

Dr. Charles Mugera, a doctor of internal medicine, said that his son Christian is taking part in the vaccine trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health.

Mugera has another son, 11-year-old Gerald, who had hoped to take part as well, but was eliminated from the trial when medical staff couldn’t get a blood sample. Gerald was disappointed and shed a few tears over not being included, Mugera said.

He wonders whether his sons understand the historic nature of the vaccine trial. He said that both of them know that having a vaccine that works for children is important, but it was his wife, Kabuiya Ruth, who helped them grasp the magnitude in a way that was appropriate for their young age.

The Mugeras related what getting back to normal would mean for the children.

“You can go back to school; see your friends; have play dates … have a birthday party,” Mugera said. And that could happen when more children are vaccinated. That made the benefits of getting blood drawn and injections crystal clear.

Christian got his first injection of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday, and he’s due for his second shot on May 26.

Mugera said after the shot, instead of the 15-minute observation period that adults undergo after getting a vaccination, the children are observed for one hour. Then, parents are instructed on what to look for as they keep an electronic diary, which includes noting any medications that were given to treat possible side effects of the vaccinations.

Christian showed no signs of slowing down after getting his first jab, even telling friends that it didn’t hurt.

“He had a bit of soreness, but really nothing more than that,” Mugera said. “Immediately after, he was playing, and the next day he was playing. He’s been fine.”

Are some of Mugera’s acquaintances feeling more confident in the vaccines after seeing how well Christian is doing in the trials?

“I think what’s more reassuring to most people is that this vaccine has been given to millions of adults with little side effects,” he said.

What Mugera would say to people who still feel uncomfortable about vaccinations — either for themselves or, when available, for their children — is, “Trust the science.”

“This pandemic is only getting under control now since we got the vaccine, and I think the science is speaking for itself,” he said.

Finally, noting the speed with which the vaccine was made available and how effective it seems to be, Mugera summed up his feelings this way: “All I really want to say is, America has come through again!”

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.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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