Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville conducting new COVID vaccine trial

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) — A Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial is already underway, this time for children 6 months to 5 years old. There is a research site in Charlottesville and until now people have been eager to be a part of it.

“I feel like I have at least five people calling me every day, which is different,” said Grace Royster, Pediatric Associates’ primary clinical research coordinator. “Normally we don’t have people knocking on the door to participate in a study.”

There aren’t many trial locations in the state, so people come from all over to join the Pediatric Associates one.

“I mean, we have people from outside the Charlottesville area who have called us to bring their children from Northern Virginia to the study,” said lead researcher for pediatric research Dr. Paul Wisman.

While this kind of response to a vaccine trial is new to Pediatric Associates, it’s also encouraging.

“They’re excited that they can make the world a little better by getting more people vaccinated, to better protect the herd’s immunity,” Wisman said.

Pediatric Associates did a similar study for the 5-11 year Pfizer vaccine. Two-thirds of the participants receive the actual vaccine, the rest receive a placebo.

“It’s a phase two, three study, which means we’re essentially looking for side effects,” Royster said. “We already have a fixed dose, which we are not testing. But we’re looking at any side effects that the vaccine causes and any reactions that children may have.”

Until now, it was more difficult for these participants to see what dose they were getting.

“Most kids don’t have any reactions,” said Dr. Paul Wisman. “So even that’s not very helpful. Like you’ve been vaccinated. You know a good percentage of adults have sore arms or others, but most kids haven’t even had that.”

Staff handed out 15 doses last week and will administer another 25 this week. They are currently taking enrollment for the December trial, but there is already a waiting list.

“We’re prioritizing the under 2 age group, so 6 months to 2 years old because that’s the more difficult age group to sign up for worldwide, not just at our location,” Royster. “We also prioritize patients of color because we need diversity in this study.”

To join the trial waiting list, contact Pediatric Associates at 434-872-9384. The only limitation is that they cannot take immunocompromised children.

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