“And I also thought it was important to have people of different ages and races represented,” added Audrey, who, like her brother, is Asian. (Their mother, Rachel, a nurse researcher who volunteered for a vaccine trial, requested that their last name not be released for confidentiality reasons.)
Overall, trials in adolescents may be less diverse, as the results of trials in adults showed no discernible difference in results by race. And because trials on adults have been so successful, up to two-thirds of adolescents may be offered the vaccine itself rather than a placebo.
Pfizer, whose trial is fully registered, is awaiting results from its trials for children ages 12 to 15 in the first trimester of this year, which it will then submit to the Food and Drug Administration for review. Moderna is still recruiting for its trials on adolescents, with data expected this summer. Other companies are planning to start trials with adolescents soon. Shortly after, researchers will open trials for children as young as 5, probably with smaller doses.
As in any medical trial, investigators are impartial when discussing the risks and benefits. Rather than lecturing to young subjects, Dr. Campbell, whose clinic will be conducting a Moderna trial for young children, engages them in a conversation.
“Do you remember your tetanus injection? Talk to me, ”he might say. And then, “This is how it’s similar and how it’s different.” He wants to make sure that the teenager is actively involved in the decision making. “We always say, ‘Don’t do this for your parents.’ “
Dr Sarah Hasan, senior recruiter for DM Clinical Research, which oversees the Houston Fights Covid campaign and most of the city’s vaccine trials, said information sessions for teens and adults differ strikingly. She has more fun with teenagers.
“Usually the adults go through the form, ask a few questions and you’re done,” she says. “But kids ask a lot more questions than adults and they actually listen, which is pretty cool.”