Many parents are eager to get their kids under 12 vaccinated against COVID-19. One way to do that is to enroll children in vaccine trials — but doctors say parents looking to sign their children up for trials should do so safely.
Dr. Brian Chow, an infectious disease attending physician at Tufts Children's Hospital, says parents should be sure to go directly to Moderna's or Pfizer's websites. From there, parents can type in their zip codes to find a nearby COVID-19 vaccine trial.
Talking with a pediatrician can also be a way to find a trial and get more information — but parents should keep in mind that it's not guaranteed their child will get the vaccine should they sign up.
"Oftentimes, they are comparing the vaccine to a placebo, so there is a chance that their child could enroll in the study and not receive vaccine," Chow said. "These studies are also what's called blinded, so neither the researcher, the nurse administering the vaccine, nor the parents or the child receiving the injection will know if they've gotten the actual vaccine or not."
For that reason, Chow says it's important for parents to keep practicing COVID-19 precautions as a child goes through the trial.
As always with clinical trials, there could be potential side effects, so parents should consult with their child's pediatrician first and thoroughly read the consent form that will detail the possible side effects.
Doctors have said from the start that the benefits of the vaccine greatly outweigh the risk, and there's real-world evidence of that from millions of people around the world.
When parents vaccinate their children, it can also benefit those around the child.
"They protect those who are vulnerable children, so they can also attend school, and these are oftentimes their friends and neighbors," Chow said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects at least one COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for kids under 12 by the end of the year.