Shot of Hope: DC-Area Kids Participating in COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

For the Mugera family of Clarksburg, Maryland, enrolling 8-year-old Christian in the Moderna trial made sense. He has a congenital heart disease and is more at risk if he contracts COVID-19

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In the next big step in the race to end the pandemic, 10 young children from the D.C. area recently received their first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine as part of a nationwide clinical trial. 

Moderna started the second phase of its vaccine trial involving children under age 12. Researchers say the early results are encouraging and the findings will be crucial in determining when kids will be able to get vaccinated.

News4 got an inside look at the research and spoke with a local doctor whose 8-year-old son is participating in the trial. 

For the Mugera family of Clarksburg, Maryland, enrolling Christian, a third grader, in the trial made sense. He has a congenital heart disease, so he’s more at risk if he contracts COVID-19.

“For me and my wife, it was a no-brainer,” said Dr. Charles Mugera. 

Christian has been doing virtual learning since the beginning of the pandemic as his parents, both doctors, try to keep him safe. Staying home has been hard on him, so when his parents heard about the Moderna trial, they were all in. 

After several blood draws and a lot of paperwork, Christian received the first of two full doses of the shot on April 27. 

“He had a little soreness in his arm but no fever, no muscle aches, no lethargy. So he was surprisingly asymptomatic, completely. It was incredible,” Mugera said. 

Nine other children from the D.C. area are taking part in Moderna’s KidCOVE trial through the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The families of all children in the first phase of the trial know they’re receiving the vaccine, not a placebo, and the amount of the dose, researcher Dr. Jim Campbell said. Scientists will see how children tolerate the vaccine and determine the dosage level to use in later stages of the trial. 

To do that, Moderna is enrolling nearly 7,000 children, from 6-month-old babies to 11-year-olds. The volunteers are divided into three groups and given varying levels of the vaccine. Parents keep digital diaries of any symptoms, with each child getting two doses, 28 days apart. 

Once we've shown that they're safe and effective, I think it’s going to be a really important part for a piece of the puzzle for us to get back to life as we used to remember it,” Campbell said.

Safe COVID-19 vaccinations for children would deliver a shot of a hope for a generation of young people eager to get back to normal life. 

Christian, the 8-year-old participating in the vaccine trial, is ready to “get his life back,” his father said. Once he’s vaccinated, he’ll go back to school, travel and see his grandparents. 

Christian will be fully vaccinated next month, with antibodies to protect him from COVID-19. His family said the trial has given them a new sense of freedom. They’re planning a vacation someplace warm this summer. 

The first phase of the trial will last several months. The second phase is expected to start later this summer.

Researchers are still looking for young volunteers. Here’s information from the University of Maryland School of Medicine on how to express interest

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