OU Health physician enrolls baby in Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial

Oklahoma City, Okla. — An assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine has enrolled her one-year-old son in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Dr. Shauna Lawlis, also an adolescent medicine specialist at the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health, wanted her son Rhys to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“It’s been really hard having a kid during an international pandemic. Hard to take him out, not go places, trying to avoid exposing him to people that might be sick,” Lawlis said.

When she discovered she was pregnant two weeks before COVID-19 shutdowns, she feared for her and her baby’s safety.

Because pregnant women are in an immunocompromised state, COVID-19 has put mothers and their infants’ lives at risk. Pregnant women who are vaccinated in their third trimester have a high likelihood of passing antibodies on to their babies, which continues after delivery through breastmilk.

Lawlis hopes that she was able to spread antibodies to Rhys before the trial since she was vaccinated two months postpartum.

Growing up with a father in biotechnology, Lawlis was used to hearing about clinical trials. When she learned of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial for kids aged six months to six years at the Lynn Health Science Institute in Oklahoma City, she signed Rhys up as soon as he was old enough.

“Now that we’re seeing more kids get infected, I felt like it was really important to get him vaccinated as soon as I could,” Lawlis said.

There is a 75% chance that Rhys has been vaccinated in the trial, as some children are only given a placebo.

While the vaccine can cause uncomfortable side effects initially, Lawlis encourages everyone to get their recommended doses, “The side effects for a week or two of feeling not as great are way better than having an infection with COVID.”

Those who are vaccinated can still come down with the virus but at a less life-threatening level.

Although Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has not yet has received FDA emergency use authorization for children, Pfizer’s has.

If you have questions about vaccines for your own child, Lawlis encourages you to contact your pediatrician.