East Providence teens taking part in adolescent COVID-19 vaccine trial


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Four East Providence 7th graders are taking part in Moderna’s nationwide adolescent COVID-19 vaccine trial.

The trial began last December and is for children between the ages of 12 and 17.

The students, Zoey Frank, Willa Nelson, Janie Palan and Peyton Riegel, all volunteered to take part in the trial.

Frank tells 12 News the mother of a fellow student was the first to mention the trial to her parents, and she opted to do so alongside her brother.

She said at first, when her parents asked them if they’d be interested in participating, they were unsure.

“It seemed scary to be one of the first ones to get the vaccine, and then we decided eventually that we should probably do it because it would really help people,” Frank said.

Riegel said throughout the trial, they’ve had to document how they’re feeling each day and if they’re experiencing any side effects. So far, Riegel and Palan have only had their first dose of the vaccine, while Frank and Nelson are fully immunized.

Palan tells 12 News she developed what she thought was a small cold after receiving her first shot. But after a few days, she said she was feeling good again.

Nelson received her second shot Tuesday. Even though her arm is swollen and she’s very tired, she said it was worth it.

The girls have no way of knowing whether they actually received the vaccine or if they were given a placebo, but they said it’s a great feeling to be part of something bigger than themselves.

“It’s really cool because of how big the world is and you’re one of the few kids in the U.S. helping figure out this whole pandemic, which is really fun to think about,” Riegel said.

In total, Moderna’s adolescent vaccine trial involves 3,000 kids.

In December, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the company was encouraged by the safety and efficacy data of its vaccine in adults 18 and older.

“Our goal is to generate data in the spring of 2021 that will support the use of mRNA-1273 in adolescents in advance of the 2021 school year,” Bancel stated in December. “We hope we will be able to provide a safe vaccine to provide protection to adolescents so they can return to school in a normal setting.”

Moderna announced on March 16 it had just started its pediatric vaccine trial for children under the age of 12. The company plans to enroll approximately 6,750 children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years across the United States and Canada in the trial.

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