When Abhinav, an Ohio seventh grader, learned that a Covid-19 vaccine trial near his hometown was enrolling children, he wanted to participate. But there was one aspect of the study that had him worried.
“I was mostly a bit nervous about the blood draws, because I had one about five years ago, and it wasn’t so comfortable,” Abhinav, 12, said.
Nonetheless, he decided to enlist in the trial, which is run by Pfizer Inc.
“I think that it could really benefit the world, and I think it could also help scientists know more about the coronavirus,” said Abhinav, whose family asked that their last name not be used to protect their privacy.
Abhinav received his first injection at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center last Thursday, making him among the youngest participants in the world to take part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial. His father, Sharat, a bone marrow transplant physician, had already been in the trial himself, and encouraged Abhinav to sign up after experiencing no ill effects other than a fever that lasted for a day or two.
“I’m happy that he’s doing his bit for science,” Sharat said of his son. “With the Pfizer study, no major side effects have been reported so far, so that made me comfortable with enrolling Abhinav as well.”
Earlier this month, Pfizer became the first pharmaceutical company in the United States to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration to test its vaccine on children as young as 12. The kids who have signed up say they are proud to be participating — and say they feel safe doing so.
“They were talking about symptoms, and they were just fatigue, low-grade fever, headache. I was thinking, ‘I hope I don’t have anything like that because I don’t want it to mess with school or work,’” Katelyn Evans, 16, of Green Township, Ohio, said. “But I wasn’t thinking about my permanent health for a short-term inconvenience.”
Like most of the other coronavirus vaccine trials, Pfizer’s involves getting two shots. Participants are given the shots three weeks apart and then have their health monitored for two years by researchers. The participants do not know whether they are receiving a placebo injection or an actual Covid-19 vaccine.
Either way, the youngest trial volunteers say they have confidence in the vaccines that are being developed — putting them at odds with many adults across the country.
Manufactured during a highly politicized pandemic in a matter of months versus the years or decades that a vaccine typically takes, the Covid-19 vaccines have prompted growing skepticism. A survey in October from Stat News and the Harris Poll found that only 58 percent of the American public would get a vaccine when it becomes available, down from 69 percent of those polled in August.
But researchers say the vaccines they are testing