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Two trials for COVID-19 vaccine in children will be conducted in Omaha

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As we inch toward herd immunity, the fight against the coronavirus now moves to the next phase.

Vaccine makers are now beginning to study the effects of the COVID vaccine in children. In the month of May, two key trials investigating the COVID vaccine will be conducted in Omaha.

“We look forward to being able to being able to bring the vaccine to younger kids,” said Dr. Kari Simonsen.

Dr. Simonsen is the Pediatrician-in-Chief at Omaha Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. She is also the Lead Investigator for the clinical trials on the COVID vaccine and its effects on children.

The hospital was tapped by Pfizer to conduct phase two and three trials for the vaccine maker.

“So the kids will be randomized, that means we don’t know right away whether or not they’ll get the active vaccine product,” said Dr. Simonsen.

The study will involve some 5,000 kids nationwide in the youngest age group yet, six months to 11 years old. For each trial, 50 kids will be split into placebo and treatment groups.

Researchers will track everything from infection rates, immune responses, and any possible side effects.

“From soreness, redness at the vaccine site to fevers, fatigue anything that’s new or changing,” said Dr. Simonsen.

Across town at Merdian Clinical Research, a similar study is about to begin involving the COVID vaccine from Novavax, which hasn’t yet been authorized by the FDA.

“It looks very safe. They have a lot of data in the early trials that looks very effective,” said Dr. Brandon Essink, Principal Investigator and Medical Director.

Novavax hopes to enroll 100 teens, between the ages of 12 and 17 at 75 sites nationwide. The study at Meridian also involves phase two and three trials.

Participants will be randomized between vaccine or placebo groups and then they will be followed for several months.

“It’s more of a traditional what we call efficacy study where you’re looking to see does this work in the real world,” said Dr. Essink.

Though the virus does not affect kids like adults, infections can be serious. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, more than 3,000 kids have been diagnosed with the rare Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

The hope is vaccines will be key to stopping the spread.

“We really think having the full population vaccinated will be our way forward eventually out of this pandemic,” said Dr. Simonsen.

Both the Novavax and Pfizer trial are expected to last a year, with the first results expected around six months.

The Novavax clinical trial at Meridian Clinical Research is scheduled to begin the first week of May. For more information about the study or volunteering, please contact Merdian Clinical Research at (402) 934-7563 or you can also sign up online.

The Pfizer clinical trial at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center is expected to begin at the end of May, with enrollment around Memorial Day. If interested, families can find more information online.

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