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More than 100 St. Louis children participate in Washington University Moderna vaccine trial

Local families are helping verify the efficacy and safety of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children
Credit: Holden Kurwicki

ST. LOUIS — Pfizer is close to getting the green light to distribute their COVID-19 vaccine for children. Dr. Jason Newland, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, expects the Pfizer vaccine for children to roll out in early November.

"We likely will be vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds in November, as long as the data still supports what we keep hearing that it's safe and effective," Dr. Newland tells 5 On Your Side. 

Both Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology, but Dr. Newland said approval for the Moderna vaccine is months away. 

"I think it's fair to say that Moderna approvals for 12 and under won't be until 2022," he said.

Dr. Newland and the entire team at Washington University's School of Medicine are playing a key part in the Moderna vaccine trial. Currently, around 140 St. Louis area children are enrolled in the University's study for children under 12 years old.

Two of those children are Shepherd and Crew Haden from Kirkwood. Their mom, Ashley, gave her boys the option of participating.

"We talked about it with them and of course they made the ultimate decision," she said.

Shepherd and Crew have received two shots. The study is blind, so the Hadens do not know if they received vaccine or placebo shots. 

"We think for sure our second-grader was vaccinated," Ashley said. "He had a fever, headache and general malaise, but who knows. It will be interesting to see."

If the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children, the Haden family would be able to find out if their boys received a vaccine or placebo. If they choose to find out ahead of schedule, they will be dropped from trial results. 

The Hadens have not decided on what to do yet. 

"Our concern is that if everybody does that then Moderna doesn't have enough data to fully submit at some point for approval and we really want to be a part of that process."