Central Florida pediatrician begins Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trials for children

ORLANDO, Fla. — Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trials are now under way for children as young as 12 years of age.

The only Moderna site in Florida is located at Nona Pediatric Center in Orlando.

Dr. Salma Elfaki has been running the center for more than eight years and is the principal investigator for Accel Research.

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“As soon as COVID hit, I told them, COVID vaccine, sign me up. I’m ready,” Dr. Elfaki says.

We are now enrolling patients 12-17 for COVID vaccine trials. Watch us on the news today on ABC channel 9 for the exclusive story. Sign up your teens on

Posted by Nona Pediatric Center on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Her office is now a site for Moderna’s COVID vaccine trials for kids between the ages of 12 and 17.

Researchers will work to figure out if side effects play out similarly in that age group and whether the vaccine reaches the same 95 percent efficacy for them.

“It’s such a huge honor to be part of this historical time, and be able to be part of the solution,” Dr. Elfaki says.

As the only site in Florida, Dr. Elfaki says they have a large number of people on their waitlist to participate.

As for concerns about offering children up for research, Dr. Elfaki says, “When we’re doing clinical trials, the safety of our patients is number one.”

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She says the level of cooperation so far has been a pleasant surprise.

“A lot of parents are going along with the science and trusting the scientific community and allowing us to work with them and their children,” Dr. Elfaki says.

The parents contacted Accel Research about the study, and now, more than 400 kids are signed up.

The team is reviewing all their information to find kids age 12 to 17 who meet specific criteria, but it’s not too late to register.

Dr. Elfaki says there’s a 67 percent chance that a participant will get the vaccine instead of a placebo.

The kids will be given the same Moderna vaccine currently being administered to adults, with two doses 28 days apart.

Despite the lower risk COVID presents to children, Dr. Elfaki says it’s still important to get them vaccinated because of the way COVID spreads.

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“So far the data with vaccines in adults have shown that it does decrease the chance of it being spread...That’s what we all want,” Dr. Elfaki says.

The trials are set to start Thursday.

Both Pfizer and Moderna say they hope to have results from their pediatric vaccine trials by the summer.