SEATTLE - Seattle-area parents can now add their children to a registry of people interested in participating in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines.
It's a new development for the registry that was established in March 2020 by the Kaiser Permanente Health Research Institute. Previously, only adults could sign up.
Researchers in the United States typically study the safety and efficacy of new vaccines, even ones intended for children, in adults first.
Existing trials could change their age criteria for participants, or new trials may be organized specifically for people under 18.
"After the positive results we have seen in COVID vaccines in adults, we can now feel confident to begin what is known as ‘age de-escalation,’ and include people under age 18 in clinical trials of these vaccines," said Lisa Jackson, MD, MPH, a senior investigator who heads the institute’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit. "We never want to give a vaccine to such a vulnerable population until we are sure about its safety in healthy adults."
The studies may begin by evaluating vaccines in teenagers, gradually moving to elementary school-age children, and finally preschoolers. The vaccine developed by Pfizer and Biontech has already been tested in 16- and 17-year-olds and is approved for use in that age group.
The health research institute launched its registry last year as a way to identify potential volunteers who could be quickly enrolled as soon as clinical trials were approved and ready to go.
Nearly 11,000 people had signed up by the end of January 2021.
Parents and guardians who are interested in being contacted for a COVID-19 vaccine trial that their child could be eligible for can visit the registry information page.
The children must live in the greater Seattle area and be able to travel with a parent or guardian to the research clinic in downtown Seattle. There are more restrictions listed on the registry's website.
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