Pfizer to start testing its COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 12

Pfizer intends to test its experimental coronavirus vaccine in children as young as age 12 years, marking the first vaccine trial for COVID-19 in the United States involving children, says Robert Frenck, MD, director of the Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Pfizer intends to test its experimental coronavirus vaccine in children as young as age 12 years, marking the first vaccine trial for COVID-19 in the United States involving children, says Robert Frenck, MD, director of the Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. He says a team at the hospital will begin vaccinating teenagers aged 16 and 17 year this week, and will later enroll 12-to 15-year-olds. Additional sites will also enroll children. Frenck says more than 90 people have already responded to an advertisement seeking volunteers to sign up teens for the trial. He will help lead the trial, for which Pfizer obtained approval from FDA. Frenck says, "I think one of the things that is important to remember is that although the death rate for children with COVID is lower than in older adults, it's not zero." Frenck notes that children can develop severe illness and die from COVID-19, while some develop a rare but serious adverse effect from infection called multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Pfizer is one of four companies to have vaccines in Phase III clinical trials in the United States. The company says it enrolled nearly 38,000 volunteers in its trial, with more than 31,000 participants receiving the second of two doses. Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, developed with German firm BioNtech, uses fragments of viral genetic material to induce immunity to the coronavirus.