ADA, Okla. (NewsNation Now) — In recent weeks, Pfizer and Moderna have opened up their COVID-19 trials to include children. Right now, Moderna is recruiting thousands of participants between the ages of 12 and 17 to test the vaccine out for themselves.
NewsNation spoke with a mother who is taking her sons to get their first dose — possibly a placebo — on Saturday.
“Man, if my boys were old enough, I would have found out a way to get them in there to get that shot when I went, but they’re not,” said Dr. Courtney Bratton.
Bratton lives in Ada, Oklahoma. The optometrist is a wife and mother of three — a daughter in college, and two boys in junior high. Logan and Tyler are 13 and 14 years old. Like every family, pandemic life has been a roller coaster. Bratton has juggled her medical practice and the boys’ education.
“Around fall break or so, the numbers started getting really, really high,” said Bratton. “So, we pulled the boys out and brought them home. And that was a nightmare.”
Dr. Bratton is halfway through her COVID-19 shots. When Moderna announced it was looking for 3,000 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 to volunteer for its adolescent trial, she said enrolling her children was a no-brainer.
“When that opportunity came up, I didn’t even ask them,” she said. “I was like, I’m signing them up and I’ll let them know afterward because I don’t want to miss this opportunity.”
On its website, Moderna lays out — in great detail — the trial description, eligibility criteria and the locations that are recruiting. Currently, there are only 10 sites in eight states where children can take part. Oklahoma City is one of them, and drivable from Bratton’s home.
“I think what I’m most nervous about is them getting the placebo,” said Bratton. “But at the same time, if we didn’t enter this study, they wouldn’t get it.”
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Studies consistently show that adolescents and young adults are susceptible to COVID-19, but that the case numbers aren’t as high or as severe compared to adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pediatricians across the country applauding both Pfizer and Moderna for expanding their trials.
“I think it’s critical that children are included in the vaccine trials so that we can test it in a diverse group of children and monitor their immune response, and make sure that the vaccine is safe and effective,” said Dr. Pamela Greenspon, a pediatrician in Nevada.
Dr. Bratton says her oldest is excited, and her youngest was a bit skeptical about being a guinea pig until he learned about the added bonus to possible immunity — volunteers get paid to the tune of about $90 per visit.
“And he’s like, ‘Oh I get paid?!’” said Bratton. “And so he’s all excited about it. He’s like all I have to do is go get a shot and answer some questions and get a payday, so he’s already planning on what he’s going to spend his money on!”
Bratton tells NewsNation she and the kids are going to hop in the car on Saturday and hit the road for their first dose — about an hour and a half away. The boys will get their second vaccine 28 days later and be monitored for about a year. She says it’s their best shot at getting life back to normal.