Oklahoma medical researchers to conduct Moderna clincial trials on children

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma medical research organization will be conducting part of Moderna’s clinical trials to see if their COVID-19 vaccine will work on children 2-12 years old.

The Lynn Institute, based in Oklahoma City, already contributed and recently completed research on how Moderna’s vaccine works on teens 13-17 in addition to studies with Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines.

Currently, Moderna is only for adults 18 and older.

Lynn Institute CEO Carlos Blanco told FOX23 News many parents across the state have signed up to have their children participate in clinical trials for any COVID-19 vaccine because there currently are no approved vaccines to be used for children age 15 and younger, and they want to try to give their kids some protection when they go to school. Pfizer’s two-dose COVID vaccine can be taken by teens age 16 and 17.

Blanco said the information found in these clinical trials could very well shed some light on how the next school year could play out when it comes to COVID precautions and vaccinations parents will at least want to consider.

Moderna, he said, has selected researchers in all 50 states, and The Lynn Institute is Oklahoma’s selected research facility. Despite Lynn having a Tulsa campus, in order to maintain quality and consistency in the study, all upcoming Moderna trials for children will take place at Lynn’s headquarters in Oklahoma City.

“In the last round we saw people from all over the state eager to get their children in,” Blanco said. “We’ve seen that the U.K. variant that is now the dominant strain in the U.S. can impact younger members of the population as opposed to the original strain that seemed to target older adults. They are concerned, and they want something to help protect their kids.”

Blanco said the children who will be studied, with parent approval, will be given a smaller dose than what has been administered to adults.

“Moderna has calculated out how much is needed based on age and weight and things like that,” he said.

“The doses are smaller and more suited for a smaller child’s body.”

Lynn is paying participants for their time and travel, and once their child is vaccinated, they will be given a journal and a way to take photos of if their child is fine or having some reactions to the dose.

FOX23 asked Blanco if some children will feel sick after they receive the dose as we did with adults during their first or even second dose. He said it is possible, but like with adults, the symptoms are only temporary while the immune system learns what the vaccine is telling it. Those symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter cold medication.

“I’ve explained it to people who ask me about it this way, having a child with a sore arm or an eight-hour cold is far better than seeing them struggling to breathe and barely alive on a ventilator in a hospital,” he said.

“You can give them something like an aspirin for the pain now, but it will be a completely different experience if they get COVID later and need emergency medical care. This U.K. variant is going to be tougher for those who are younger.”

Blanco added that by vaccinating children in minority communities, health officials can make inroads to get the parents vaccinated as well and give those communities more protection against the Coronavirus. By increasing the number of people vaccinated, he said, we can get closer to herd immunity

If you are interested in having your child participate in the Moderna clinical trial with The Lynn Institute, you can fill out this form and be placed in the cue. There are limited doses, and some spots may already be filled.

The study will begin in July.

After the study, Moderna will collect the results, and if shown to be effective, they will submit their findings to the Food and Drug Administration to update their emergency use authorization. If they receive FDA approval, vaccinations for children could start very shortly after that vote and guidance is released to health care providers about how to vaccinate children.