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URMC to participate in COVID-19 vaccine trial for children 11 and younger

Max Schulte

The University of Rochester Medical Center is again at the forefront of another COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial. This time, researchers will be looking at how well the vaccine generates a response in children ages 11 and younger.

The nationwide trial will test the vaccine on 200 to 300 volunteers; about 45 will be from the Rochester area.

Dr. Mary Caserta, the co-leader of the local effort, said safety is more important than efficacy with this particular age group.

“Safety is the primary objective of these studies for the younger children,” Caserta said. “That's why we have to do the studies in children to make sure the vaccine is safe, and induces the right immune response.” 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 20% of the U.S. population are younger than 18. Caserta said achieving herd immunity will be impossible without vaccinating this demographic.

“Millions of children have become infected, thousands have been hospitalized, and hundreds have died,” Caserta said. “COVID-19 is a significant disease in children as well as in adults.”

Trial enrollment begins Monday for the Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11 and in August for the Moderna. Caserta said they are still accepting volunteers, but parents or guardians will need to give consent.

To volunteer, click here

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.