LeBonheur seeks to join COVID-19 vaccination trial for kids

Updated: Jan. 21, 2021 at 9:31 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Pfizer and Moderna have started COVID-19 vaccination trials for children.

WMC Action News 5 has learned that LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis wants to join the effort.

Going to school and taking part in normal activities are both crucial to a child’s development and success in life. Medical experts said vaccinating kids against COVID-19 is the way to do get them safely involved again.


Dr. Sandra Arnold, an infectious disease expert at LeBonheur, said the hospital completed the paperwork necessary to join Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trials on children. They’re just waiting to hear back from the company.

“It is very important to study the vaccine’s effect on children,” said Dr. Arnold, “because children react in different ways because their immune systems are different when they’re young. Their immune systems are not as mature, so they may not respond as strongly. We also have to make sure we give the right dose to children because doses for children are not always the same as they are for adults.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2.5 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. More than 10,000 have been hospitalized and 191 children have died from COVID-19.

Last week, Moderna admitted it’s having trouble finding young volunteers for its clinical trials. Only 800 kids have been recruited. 3,000 are needed.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital started a clinical trial with Pfizer’s vaccine on kids ages 12 to 15 in October.

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Pfizer’s vaccine already received emergency use authorization for children 16 and older.

Now the focus is on younger kids. Innoculate them. Get them back in school. Make sure they don’t take the virus back home to loved ones.

LeBonheur stands ready to help.

“We have asked, and we have not heard back,” said Arnold, “But we’re hoping to hear soon because it does take a long time to negotiate these things with various pharmaceutical companies. When we hear something, we’ll be sure to let the community know.”

If, and when LeBonheur gets the green light, the hospital will ask for volunteers. The first results from clinical trials already underway elsewhere in the U.S. are expected this spring.

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