DeLand COVID vaccine research site seeking children for Novavax trials

DeLand, Fla. — A new COVID-19 vaccine research site in DeLand is seeking kids aged 12 to 17 to participate in a trial.

The doctors conducting the trials say they’ll play a major role in the effort to reach herd immunity against the virus in Central Florida.

Though kids are less likely than older adults to become seriously ill from a COVID-19 infection, studies show they still contribute significantly to transmission of the virus.

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That’s why pharmaceutical companies are working to make sure their vaccines work for children too.

“All the companies that have got vaccines out, we’ll be looking at doing the younger groups,” says Dr. Bruce Rankin, Medical Director at Accel Research.

Trials are underway across the country to determine whether the vaccines first tested on adults are as effective in children.

Vaccine trials for minors are already underway in Lake Nona.

In DeLand, it’ll be the Novavax vaccine that gets put to the test, which hasn’t yet been authorized for use in adults by the Food and Drug Administration.

READ: COVID-19 vaccine trial for children underway in Lake Nona; here’s how to sign up

That’s not stopping Dr. Rankin and his team from moving forward with their trials.

“We’re hoping that starts within the next couple of weeks,” Dr. Rankin says. “We’re looking for as many as we can bring in.”

Dr. Rankin doesn’t think parents will be deterred either.

“I think the parents will be eager to see that group being vaccinated because we know we need to get to that point.”

The Novavax vaccine is not an mRNA shot. It’s a protein-based vaccine, requiring two doses 21 days apart, the same as for adults.

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In the trial, two-thirds of the teens will get the vaccine and the rest will get a placebo.

Participants will be paid for their time and travel.

The team hopes to have the study complete by the summer, just in time for kids to return to school.