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Family First with FOX43: COVID-19 vaccine trials ongoing in children

There is still not enough data to comfortably give kids the vaccine, though doctors think that could change by the fall of 2021.

YORK, Pa. — As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to more people, one group of the population remains off any list to get the shot: children.

Pfizer and Moderna, the two drug manufacturers who have made vaccines to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, are only offering their shots to adults. Pfizer is allowing its shot to go to 16 and 17 year olds as well. 

Dr. Eugene Curley, an infectious disease expert with Wellspan Health in South Central Pennsylvania, says of why the vaccine isn't available for kids, "Currently, we don't have enough data." 

There are a number of reasons for that. Doctors theorize because a child's immune system is constantly developing, including them in adult trials would lead to uneven results. Because the vaccine hasn't been tested yet on kids, it's simply not considered safe enough to give to them.

"In order to know if it’s safe, how we figure it out is through a clinical trial," Dr. Curley said.

A number of trials are underway, testing the vaccine in children. Pfizer's trial is for kids age 12 to 15. One of them is taking place at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina.

"We jumped at the opportunity," said Gina Chung, who enrolled her 7th grade son Caleb in one of the trials. Gina, and her husband, pediatrician Dr. Richard Chung, studied vaccine data in adults before making the decision to include Caleb.

"Kids are not the same as adults, so we can’t really assume which is why we do the trials, but at least, as a physician, I felt positive about at least that initial data," Dr. Chung said. 

Children participating in the trial will get two doses of the vaccine, similar to adaults. The only difference is they don't know if they're receiving the actual vaccine or a placebo.

Caleb's parents said their son had some mild pain after the first dose, and had more side effects following the second dose. 

The nation's top health experts expect the trials to wrap up in the coming months.

"Hopefully by the time we get to the late spring and early summer we will have children being able to be vaccinated," Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a recent White House coronavirus briefing. 

Fauci said that if the Pfizer trial in 12 year olds is successful, it will be followed by another round of trials in 9 year olds.

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