Moderna vaccine offered to children as part of clinical trial at USF

USF seeks healthy children under 12 to receive the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 through a clinical trial.

The University of South Florida has been getting a lot of inquiries about a COVID vaccine trial for children set to begin locally Monday.

“We actually have a waiting list [as of Thursday],” says Carina Rodriguez M.D., principal investigator for the trial. 

Children under 12 can receive the Moderna vaccine as part of the large-scale trial including up to 1,200 participants across the United States and Canada. The number of local volunteers is not fixed, she says.

In the randomized trial, three out of four children who are picked from the volunteers will receive the actual vaccine spaced four weeks apart; one out of four will receive a placebo with sterile salt water.

Initial recipients of the vaccine will be 6 to 12 years of age; later on the trial will open to children as young as 6 months old, she says. Participants may receive a different dose than those administered at pharmacies and they will be more closely monitored.

“Children definitely can get infected with COVID,” Dr, Rodriguez says. “I think it’s really critical that we vaccinate children to curb the pandemic.”

USF was chosen to participate in the study, known as KidCOVE, by its sponsor, Moderna, says Dr. Rodriguez, professor and chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the Department of Pediatrics, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

Pfizer’s COVID vaccines are already recommended for children 12 and up, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parents are advised to check with their pediatrician.  

But the Moderna vaccine is recommended only for those 18 and over at present, pending further studies.

The study seeks to enroll a diverse, representative group of the population.
“One goal of the trial is diversity,” Dr. Rodriguez points out. “We want to encourage people of any race and ethnicity to participate.”

Who are ideal candidates? Healthy children or those with chronic conditions that are stable, Dr. Rodriguez says.

Volunteers cannot test positive for COVID or be in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID for two weeks before receiving the vaccine. Other circumstances that can exclude them from participating are: taking treatments for COVID, participating in any clinical trial within the last month, or being vaccinated previously.

“The families can contact us through email, through phone number, or text us and we will get back to them,” Dr. Rodriguez says.

To enroll your child, email [email protected] or phone/text 813-853-1149.

Parents who want their children to participate should reach out as soon as possible.

“We are really filling up very very quickly,” she said in a Thursday phone interview.

Shots will be administered at Curran Children’s Health Center at 13101 N. Bruce B. Down’s Blvd., Tampa, on the main USF campus.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune