The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has just received permission to begin testing COVID-19 vaccines in kids as young as 12-years-old.
Right now, several COVID-19 vaccines are under development. Up until now, all were being tested for adults. Pfizer is one of the first companies to get the green light to start this testing on children.
One Killeen parent says it's about time.
“I feel like this is something we should not be afraid to do,” said Shekeya McCallister.
Though trials for young children have not made their way to Central Texas, McCallister says she worries about her 12-year-old daughter's health everyday. She says testing a vaccine on children is a no-brainer.
"With the large population, her school has over 1,000 children. I mean why not use that as a preventative? As long as all of the controlled tests have been done, then why not? I think it's almost the same as giving your child a flu shot," said McCallister.
“The reason that children need to be included in these trials is to see how they tolerate the vaccines. We know that children are getting sick with COVID-19. They may not be having some of the same side effects that the adults are, but if we want to control COVID-19 in our community, then we are going to have to get the kids not spreading the disease just like the adult spreading the disease," said Amy Mersiovsky, the Director and Chair of Nursing at A&M Central Texas.
With 22 years as a board-certified Pediatric Nurse, Mersiovsky explains the older we get, the weaker our immune systems get. So a vaccination for a 12-year-old would be different than one for a 65-year-old.
“There is always risks with any medication, with any vaccine. We all have to participate in research to determine the safety. Most of the time these trials happen after they have been tested on adults because, like I mentioned, earlier children's immune systems are a little different than adults,” she said.
Though there is usually a risk with any medication or vaccination, Mersiovsky says it's essential that children partake in this trial to develop a vaccine tailored to them.
“If it's a preventative, why not? Because this coronavirus, it spikes up, it spikes down, so I just feel like as a parent, to each their own, but as a parent I feel like we should do our due diligence to keep our kids safe,” said McCallister.
Mersiovsky says though it hasn’t been announced as of yet, she believes if trails with kids 12 and up go well, we could see COVID 19 vaccine trials for children even younger.