Clinical trials are underway here in Utah, looking to get approval for use of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine for kids.
The trials are taking place at Velocity Clinical Research in West Jordan. One family, the Sweetens, from Layton, has two of their three kids participating. Their parents have both worked in the medical field, one as a pediatric nurse and the other in monitoring clinical research trials, so both knew a lot about the process.
10-year-old Kaden Sweeten was ready for his shot.
“I just sorta wanna walk in there and get it,” Kaden said.
His little brother, 8-year-old Jackson, wasn’t so wild about the needles.
Despite being “really excited” to be part of the trial, “I’m just a bit scared because of all the shots,” Jackson said.
The brothers both got shots today. In order to be a part of the trial, the pair had to read their own consent forms, written in a way that’s geared toward their age group. They also had a lot of conversations with mom and dad, Tristen and Scott Sweeten.
We’ve spoken at length with them about clinical trials, about how they work, about placebos, about the risks involved, about everything they’ll have to do in the trial,” Scott said.
They signed up in the hopes of helping the community.
“In order to achieve herd immunity, and really knock COVID down, we really need kids to be vaccinated,” Scott explained. “And the only way that these vaccines can receive an emergency use authorization is if they’re tested in kids, so we believe by having them be in the trial, and also being involved in it, that they again are being a part of the solution to COVID.”
They hope it can keep their kids safer, too. One of them has a form of asthma that could add to the complications of COVID.
“One of our kids has a form of asthma that basically flares up when he gets sick. So COVID, for him, would be a risk. So we want to do everything we can to keep our kids safe,” Tristen said.
That’s why COVID has been a worry for Jackson, the 8-year-old.
“I don’t want to have any of the horrible coughs again like I used to,” he said.
When asked if the parents had any nerves, Tristen said, “Maybe a little bit. But it’s more in how people are going to judge us for the decisions that we are making, instead of what we’re actually doing. Obviously, there is risk with the vaccine, but there’s risk with COVID, too. So I feel like we’re making a good decision today,” Tristen said.
And for the kids, do the good parts outweigh the scary parts?
“I think by a trillion,” Kaden said.
They’ll keep a diary throughout the trial, keeping track of any flu-like symptoms. Moderna uses this information to assess the safety of the vaccine in kids before potentially filing for approval.
Safety is assessed throughout the entire clinical trials process. There is a ton of safety data that happens long before we even get to clinical trials where we specialize,” said Craig Koch, vice president of business development for Velocity Clinical Research. “And so, while there is always risk associated, it is risk versus benefit, and the benefit greatly outweighs the risk, at this point.