How do vaccine trials work for kids as opposed to adult trials?

Family Healthcast

(WSYR-TV) — Vaccine makers are now testing the COVID vaccine in children between 5 and 11 years old. Trials in children as young as six months are set to start at the end of June.

Many people wonder how the studies will work.

The vaccine trials in young children are different in a couple of ways from the adult studies.

Trials in children aim to figure out the protective dose, which may be lower in progressively younger age groups. Pfizer announced this week that children between 5 and 11 years old will receive one-third the dose given to adults, testing began in that group this week. 

Children 6 months to 5-years-old will receive a dose that is one-tenth of the adult dose, with studies likely to begin later in June. The Pfizer trial will include 4,500 children total in the United States, Finland, Poland and Spain. 

Two-thirds will receive the vaccine, and the rest will receive a placebo.

The other major difference is that in the adult trials, researchers had to wait to see whether people who received the vaccine were less likely to fall ill than those who received a placebo. 

However, the pediatric trials are called immune-bridging trials. They’re designed to check whether children’s immune systems muster an equivalent immune response to people who were protected against illness in older age groups.

The FDA typically requires vaccine makers to submit data showing six months of follow-up of 3,000 children. But because of the health emergency, the coronavirus vaccines have been approved in other age groups based on two months follow-up. 

This makes it theoretically possible for elementary school children to have access to the vaccine as soon as this fall.

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