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In-Depth: When kids 6 months and older could become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations

4-year-old pediatric vaccine participant
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 19:28:40-05

MILWAUKEE — With the surge in COVID cases in Wisconsin, many parents with kids ages 4 and younger are wondering when vaccines will be available.

The leader of Moderna’s pediatric vaccine trials in Wisconsin says kids 6 months and older could get their shots in just a few months if everything goes according to plan.

Anne Rodriguez jumped at the opportunity back in November to get her twin sons Sam and Theo enrolled in UW Health’s pediatric Moderna COVID vaccine trials. The four-year-old boys rolled up their sleeves to get an extra layer of protection for good reason.

Anne Rodriguez comforting son after COVID-19 vaccination

"I think the pandemic has been a long road for us like most people with small kids,” Rodriguez said. "We have people with health risks in our house. My mom who's elderly lives with us and nobody knows what the long-term impact could be of getting sick."

Both Pfizer and Moderna are currently conducting vaccine trials for the last remaining age group that has yet to be approve for emergency use.

In Wisconsin, 5.7 percent of the state's population is under the age of 5.

Dr. William Hartman is leading UW Health’s Moderna vaccine trials for kids ages 6 months to 4 years old and says it recently expanded.

"The FDA a couple weeks ago had asked nationally that the population of kids be expanded by a couple hundred kids and so we've all added more participants into the trial,” he said.

Pfizer already announced it needed to restart its pediatric trials for this age group because its initial trials found participants weren’t getting enough protection from two doses. Dr. Hartman says Pfizer’s trials give kids 4 and younger one tenth of the dosage adults receive. They’ve since added a third dose to the age group’s regimen.

Meanwhile, Moderna’s trials are giving a quarter-size dose for the youngest kids in a two-shot series.

“The initial trials that weren't done here at UW looking at dosing already pinpointed where Moderna feels the appropriate dose is for these young kids,” Dr. Hartman said. “So now, we are just evaluating the safety and efficacy and that's the data that hopefully will be available by the end of March anyway to be submitted to the FDA."

Dr. Hartman says 75 percent of participants in Moderna’s trials receive vaccine whereas a quarter get a placebo.

Rodriguez says one of her sons had mild side effects after his second dose while the other didn’t feel a thing. She looks forward to learning if her kids are in fact fully vaccinated when the trials conclude.

"I think everybody is looking for a light at the end of the tunnel and obviously vaccines are a part of what will help get us there,” she said.

While Dr. Hartman says early signs indicate that Omicron isn’t causing severe disease among most infected children, he says parents should strongly consider vaccinating their kids once it’s available to keep them and others out of the hospital.

Dr. Hartman says he believes Moderna’s COVID vaccine will be approved for emergency use for kids 6 months and older sometime in April.

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