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Efforts to vaccinate children in Rochester are underway

University of Rochester Medical Center

Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced it has begun COVID-19 vaccine testing in children. The University of Rochester Medical Center wants to make sure children from the Rochester area are represented in the national vaccine trial.

URMC and its network of providers are currently screening children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years for phase 2 and 3 of the Moderna vaccine trial.

Dr. Mary Caserta and Dr. Jennifer Nayack of URMC Pediatric Infectious Disease will be monitoring the study.

Caserta said herd immunity depends on a large number of people receiving the vaccine, and children make up 22% of the U.S. population.

“I’ve seen numbers where people expect herd immunity will need to be 80% or more of the population and as variants come that number might change,” says Caserta. “We can’t get to those numbers unless we include our children.”

Nayack said the trial will be critical in finding proper doses and whether the vaccine is safe and works in children. She adds the trial will be conducted in phases starting with the older children. 

“As we get some safety data and get some dosage data we’re then able to move down to the next population and then to the youngest population,” said Nayack.

The goal is to enroll 600-700 children from the area in the trial, and Caserta said parents are already showing a general interest. Nearly 200 parents have signed up for screening through

Nyack said she doesnt think vaccinations should be a requirement for children to return to school, however providing a vaccine for children will help boost confidence in adults and teachers.

“When that time comes there hopefully will be less hesitancy,” said Nayack. “By that point a lot of adults would have already been vaccinated.”

Parents interested in volunteering their child for the vaccine can do so via

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.