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COVID vaccine trial available for children as young as 5

Ochsner began enrolling 5 through 11-year-olds in the study for the Pfizer vaccine. The parents there are excited that it's their turn.

NEW ORLEANS — Doctors have said the way to end the pandemic is through herd immunity.
And we need at least 70 percent of the country vaccinated to get there.

Children make up a part of that. Beginning Monday, Ochsner opened the clinical trial for the Pfizer vaccine for school-age children.

Brothers Russell and Tucker Bright are among the first children in the world to get the Pfizer COVID vaccine. Even at seven, children know the pandemic took away quality of life.

“I wasn't able to go to my friend's house. I wasn't able to do like, go to like water parks, go to the beach,” said Russell Bright, 7, a study participant.

Ochsner began enrolling 5 through 11-year-olds in the study for the Pfizer vaccine. The parents there are excited that it's their turn.

“Me and my wife both believe that vaccines are the way to get COVID-19 to go away,” said Adam Bright, Russell’s father. 

Across the hall, another dad feels the same way.

“When you take the vaccine, you help anyone vulnerable in our community, and I thought there's no better message than that for our kids. So to have Kalil not only be safe, but be able to protect others, then definitely,” said Jason Halperin, five-year-old Kalil's father. 

Temperatures and blood pressure are taken, as well as a nose swab and blood draw. That's to see if they currently, or in the past, had the coronavirus. Then they get the quick injection.

After all the anticipation of the needle, Russell admitted there was a positive side to the anxiety.

“Really I feel like it's good. I think it's good to see my friends more,” said Russell Bright.

The Ochsner doctor who is running the trial says even though it is not common, children can have serious complications from catching the virus. And there’s another reason to be vaccinated.

“They transmit it to their elderly grandparents. They transmit it to other children. Those children take it back, and so the circle continues. So how do we break the circle?” said Dr. Julia Garcia-Diaz, Ochsner Director of Clinical Infectious Diseases Research and Medical Subspecialties. She is also the principal investigator on this study.

Her answer, like with all other infectious diseases, is vaccines.

Healthy children five through 11 years of age can join the study. If a child has a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, he or she can sign up as long as it is being controlled.

If you or someone you know are interested in participating in COVID-19 research opportunities at Ochsner, please email COVIDVaccine@ochsner.org.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, please visit www.ochsner.org/vaccines.

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