Parents find ways to get their youngest children vaccinated against Covid

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Parents find ways to get their youngest children vaccinated against Covid

Leng Wong Reef had just received a second dose of a COVID vaccine and thought guiltily about his two young, unrelated sons. So he started banging his keyboard.

Like countless parents across the country, she was exploring vaccine clinical trials for children. She managed to find one, applied and got a call back.

“They said the opening of a clinic in Nebraska was just four hours away,” she recalled. Better yet, it was a placebo-free trial, so she knew her sons would be given the actual vaccine.

Ms. Wong Reef, a resident of Clive, Iowa, put Logan, 9, and Quentin, 5, in her car and headed west on Interstate 80 to the clinic, where her sons received their first shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine . He returned for his second shots three weeks later, protecting him for the next school year. And they will go back in December for antibody testing.

Families are facing tough times, now that most schools have reopened after 13 months of distance learning. As the highly contagious Delta variant took hold, dozens of schools across the country have called off classes or halted sessions, especially in states with low vaccination rates.

Forty-eight million children in the United States are under the age of 12 and are not yet eligible for a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

About 252,000 children, including teenagers, tested positive in early September, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics analysis, the largest number of such cases since the start of the pandemic.

Of the 12 to 17 who are eligible to get a COVID shot, about 54 percent have received at least one dose. But public health experts say it will be months before the FDA decides whether the results of various clinical trials for people 5 to 11 and 2 to 5 qualify to authorize shots for the youngest groups. are or not.

With few options other than taking precautions like wearing masks, some parents, through their pediatricians, have called for off-label shots that are adult doses, a practice the FDA discouraged Friday. The agency cautioned that “children are not young adults,” and that adult doses no longer in widespread use have not been fully studied for potential safety risks in young children.

There’s no doubt this summer is especially trying for parents, especially after public health experts warned that the Delta version was highly permeable — even from vaccinated household members. Too. Although children are still less likely than adults, especially older adults, to be hospitalized or die from COVID, nearly 30,000 children were admitted to hospitals with COVID in August, the epicenter of the pandemic. The highest level ever during

According to a study released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the hospitalization rate in mid-August for children and adolescents with confirmed covids was nearly five times that at the end of June. The report found that the rate increased almost tenfold in children from newborn to 4 years old.

According to a second CDC study, COVID-related emergency room visits and hospital admissions among children also increased in mid-August.

Geography played a role, the researchers found. Those visits and admissions were 3.4 and 3.7 times higher in states with lower vaccination rates.

Parental anxiety has increased demand for slots in children’s vaccine trials and made appointments scarce. For example, Pfizer is fully booked in its clinical trials, a spokesperson said.

So Ms. Wong Reef grabbed a cancellation slot in Nebraska.

Dr. Tina Sosa, a mother of two, did not have to travel far and wide to get her son vaccinated in the trial. When Pfizer began a trial there, Dr. Sosa was on a fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, a pediatric hospital.

She said her older son, Brandon, 3, had no side effects from the two shots he received in April. “I also squeezed his hand and asked if he was hurt, and he said no.”

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Dr. Sosa has since moved to Rochester, NY, where she works at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Their 7-month-old son, Leo, is to begin the Moderna trial next month, while Brandon will follow up with his trial in Cincinnati via an app and telephone, Dr. Sousa said.

In his push for a vaccine mandate on Thursday, President Biden expressed the need to develop vaccines to protect children under the age of 12.

“Now if you’re the parent of a young child and you’re wondering when it will be, when — the vaccine — is available to them, I would recommend an independent scientific review for the use of vaccines for children under the age of 12. I strongly support it.” said. “We can’t take shortcuts to that scientific work.”

The three major US drug companies that make vaccines are in different stages of testing children.

Pfizer is now conducting a single test for children under the age of 12, said Kit Longley, a spokeswoman.

The first phase of the trial covers 4,500 children: 3,000 who are 5 to 11 years old; 750 which is 2 to 5; and 750 who are from 6 months to 2 years. In its second and third phases, 4,500 children are involved.

The company expects to have its trial data for children ages 5 to 11 later this month and, after more review, will potentially request FDA emergency use authorization for that age group, Ms. Longley said. said on Friday.

Moderna announced Thursday That the company has completed enrolling a total of 4,000 children, aged 6 to 11, for its trial. The company said it expects to file for FDA emergency use authorization for that age group by the end of this year.

Another application should be filed in early 2022, the company said, based on test results for children 5 and younger. In total, Moderna expects to enroll about 12,000 children, said company spokeswoman Colleen Hussey.

Johnson & Johnson has begun its Phase 3 clinical trial in adolescents ages 12 to 17, according to company spokesman Jake Sargent, and will present the findings to regulators when they are finished.

He added that the company is also planning several other studies. One will include children aged 6 to 11, followed by children aged 2 to 5. The other will look after children under the age of 2.

Impatient parents who are seeking off-label adult shots for their children can ask Dr. Sean O’Leary.

“It’s a little bit of the Wild West,” Dr. O’Leary, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital in Colorado.

Jennifer McCallum of Cedar Park, Texas, was determined to enroll her three daughters in a lawsuit. He was haunted by memories of 2016, when his daughter, Maryam, two and a half years old, fell ill with an adenovirus. Simultaneously, their daughter Naomi, who was only 6 weeks old at the time, simultaneously contracted a form of the coronavirus, which predates COVID.

Miriam was taken by ambulance to Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin. Naomi was admitted through her emergency room.

Both girls were connected to oxygen and feeding tubes at the same time, Ms McCollum recalled.

“I said, ‘I can’t do that again. I can’t emotionally love someone or even be attached to either of these things,'” said the high school math teacher. Ms McCollum said.

So, with the arrival of the pandemic, she contacted her pediatrician, and all three children got on the waiting list for the vaccine trial. Mary is now 8 years old, Naomi is 5 years old and Ruth is 2 years old.

Five months have passed. Then the phone rang, and Ms. McCollum learned that her daughters were at the top of the list to receive the Pfizer vaccine at a branch of the Austin Regional Clinic in central Texas.

According to clinic spokeswoman Heidi Shalev, so many parents were interested in that trial for the under 12 age group that there was no need for staff to enroll them.

Ruth was too young to be vaccinated at that place. Now, to avoid the risk of contracting the virus at day care, she is spending the workday with Ms McCollum’s parents.

Mary and Naomi get their two shots. They don’t know if they have the vaccine, because a third of the shots in this trial were told to be a placebo. After the injection, the children had to wait for an hour and the staff gave them a coloring book and crispy rice dishes.

Girls will learn at the beginning of winter if they receive the vaccine or placebo. If it’s a placebo, they’ll get shots of the actual content.

“Joining the study was so life-changing,” said Ms McCollum. “We were actually camping.”

Ms. Wong Reif, who owns her own marketing firm, also decided to enroll her sons in the trial to protect her husband, who had surgery and radiation for a non-infectious meningioma, she said.

In mid-August, the whole family went to Maine, Bar Harbor, and Acadia National Parks, and then to Boston for a duck boat tour.

“If the boys had not been vaccinated, we would not have gone,” Ms. Wong Reif said. “For us, it was a kind of celebration for vaccination, to slowly get back to who we were.”

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