In about a week, children in Connecticut will take part in the Moderna pediatric clinical trial. With more young people coming down with COVID-19, the study leader says getting children vaccinated will help move us to herd immunity.
“Any disease that brings children to the intensive care units is very important because we don’t want that for our younger ones,” said Dr. Inci Yildirim, a Yale Medicine vaccinologist who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases.
Yildirim says the results of the clinical trial are critical to beating COVID-19.
“If you look at the polio history, we vaccinated our younger ones and we got herd immunity. So, it happened with other infections, it will happen with this infection,” Yildirim said.
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Health experts say we need to have about 70% of the state fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity which will help reduce the spread of COVID. We’re only at 34% percent and weekly vaccination numbers are declining.
“So my concern is as we reopen our state and begin to resume activities, whether that’s indoors or outdoors, there are still large pockets where there are very low vaccination rates. That’s where we’re going to see outbreaks,” said Summer McGee, epidemiologist and dean of the University of New Haven School of Health Sciences.
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She says reaching those areas with events like the mobile vaccine vans could help. After weeks of a steady increase, Connecticut’s weekly vaccination rate peaked the week ending April 10 with 308,858 doses. A week later the number was down 20%, to 246,249 doses administered.
“I think with you know 50% of Connecticut residents having at least one dose and only about a third being fully vaccinated as of this week, I think we have a long way to get to that 65 or 70% that we need to reach herd immunity,” said McGee.
She added without herd immunity it will be hard to get to the point where the spread of COVID and new mutations slows.
Another way to help get there is by vaccinating children.
“We have been getting emails, phone calls to be part of our study which I’m thankful for,” Yildrim said.
The plan is to enroll 6,750 children in the U.S. and Canada. There’s currently a waitlist of about 400 children for the Connecticut study.
The Moderna trials will soon begin at the Yale School of Medicine, where those 6 months to 12 years will get low doses of the vaccine. They’ll begin with the 6 to 12 age group and monitor the children for effectiveness.
“If we see that the vaccine is safe, then we will go to the lower age group which is two to six years of age with a lower dose again,” Yildrim said.
They hope to have results by the end of the year.