Many doctors have claimed that the only way to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control in the U.S. – especially in the face of highly infectious variants – is to not only vaccinate adults, but also children.
And so, thousands of parents have stepped up and have volunteered their babies, toddlers elementary schoolers and teenagers to undergo vaccine clinical trials.
For some parents, the idea of enrolling their children in the studies on kids being conducted by Pfizer and Moderna seems unnecessary because 0.1 percent of all COVID-deaths have occurred in those under age 17.
For others, they told CNN the decision to join the trials was an easy one.
One family said they volunteered all three of their children because they believe vaccinating youngsters is the only way to reach herd immunity.
Another set of patents said their son made the choice himself to enroll in the clinical trial because he wants to go back to school in-person, attend birthday parties and go on summer vacation.
The Bui family of Louisiana enrolled all three of their children’s – Ellie, 6; Christian, 3; and Sloan, 1 – in Pfizer’s trial because they believe it’s the only way to reach herd immunity. Pictured, left to right: Ellie, mom Erin Biro, Sloan, Christian and dad CJ Bui
The parents said their children did not have side effects after receiving their first injections. Pictured: Erin Biro holds her daughter Sloan as she is injected next to her son, Christian
Children under age 17 only account for 0.1% of all COVID-deaths and are much less likely to fall ill with the virus than adults
One set of parents, Dr CJ Bui and Dr Erin Biro, decided to enroll all three of their children after seeing the state of COVID-19 patients entering hospitals during the early waves.
Bui, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Ochsner Medical Center in Jefferson, Louisiana, volunteered to help other wards when the hospital became overwhelmed.
‘[It was sobering] seeing how bad it can be for adults, young adults’ he told CNN.
‘I’ve seen a healthy 30-something-year-old die a miserable death.’
This month, Ellie, six; Christian, three; and Sloan, one; Bui of Jefferson, received their first shot in the Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trial.
Bui and Biro said they encouraged to sign their children up for the trial after seeing how sick COVID-19 patients got during spring 2020. Pictured: Biro holds her son Christian as he is given an injection
Ellie received her dose on June 8 while Christian and Sloane were given their initial jabs on June 21.
‘We both saw how terribly Covid affected patients,’ Biro, their mother, told CNN.
‘We felt strongly about participating in the research – obviously for the opportunity to have our kids vaccinated [and] to continue to move the needle forward in the battle against Covid.’
Children will receive doses of the vaccine 21 days apart from one another and researchers will look for side effects and other potential reactions – but the study is double-blinded.
That means the parents don’t know whether or not he child received a dose of the vaccine or a placebo.
Six months after participants get their second injections, the trial will be ‘unblinded’ and those who received placebos can get the Pfizer vaccine.
None of the Bui siblings experienced side effects, their parents told CNN.
They add that they believe vaccinating children is the only way to reach herd immunity, which is when enough people are protected against the virus so it doesn’t spread.
‘It’s really going to be impossible to get to herd immunity [without children getting vaccinated],’ Bui, their father said.
Another set of parents said both of their sons made the decision themselves to take part in Modern’s clinical trial, with their nine-year-old son Christian ultimately being chosen. Pictured: Christian receives a shot of Moderna vaccine or placebo at University of Maryland
Another family, the Mugeras of Maryland, said they were also impacted seeing how quickly the health of COVID-19 patients can decline.
Dr Charles Mugera, an internist at Anne Arundel Medical Center, told CNN it’s also clear that when vaccinations increase in a community, cases decline.
‘We have seen not only deaths, hospitalizations and infection go down, but transmissibility has gone down because we’re vaccinated don’t transmit the disease,’ he said.
‘So it becomes very clear that for this pandemic to end, we have to not only protect ourselves from severe disease but (also) get the children vaccinated.
‘Because even though the children have not been perceived as being at risk for death and severe disease, they transmit it.’
So he and his wife, Dr Kabuiya Ruth Mugera, a pediatrician asked their two sons – Gerald, then age 11 and now 12, and Christian, age nine, if they would take part in the Moderna vaccine trial.
The boys’ mother ‘explained how it works, what it does, how it protects you, and how you get your life back. You can travel. Go back to having birthday parties. Go back to school [in-person],’ Mugera told CNN.
‘That crystallized in their minds very quickly that this is the path to normalcy.’
Only Christian was selected for the trial because it was easier for his blood to be drawn, and he has received both doses.
His parents says he had some side effects including a sore arm after the first dose and a fever after the second dose – both both went away within 24 hours.
According to to Mugera, ever since enrolling in the trial, Christian’s new mantra is: ‘We’re going to save the world. We’re going to change the world.’