Pfizer vaccine trial starting for kids, babies at Texas Children’s Hospital

The study involves children 2 and under

HOUSTON – At Texas Children’s Hospital, they’re in the beginning phase of clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine in young children.

Nathan is a happy, playful 16-month-old who received his first dose last week. Like most kids his age, the majority of his life has been during the pandemic, and in Nathan’s case, mostly in isolation.

“I made the decision, when Nathan was two or three months at that time, to live apart from the family for two months until we got a better handle of how infectious it was,” said Dr. Thao Galvan.

Galvan is Nathan’s mom and also a doctor at Texas Children’s Hospital. She has been very concerned about her children being exposed to the virus.

She knows from working at the hospital that kids are not immune to complications of COVID-19, and after weighing all of the pros and cons of enrolling her baby into a vaccine trial, she decided to do it.

“We as a family felt, you know, I’ve been advocating for my family and my friends, my patients to get vaccinated. So with that audacity and that conviction, I felt like we should feel comfortable making sure our kids were vaccinated,” Galvan said. “Weighing the benefits and the risks, we decided that there were way more benefits than there were risks, and we just really believe in protecting as many people as possible.”

Principal investigator for the trial and associate professor of pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine and an infectious disease physician at Texas Children’s Hospital, Dr. Flor Munoz, has spent more than 25 years studying vaccines and is confident they will find a way to provide immunity to babies.

“Clearly, you would only do this type of study if you know or believe that there will be a benefit from the vaccination,” Munoz said.

Since the virus continues to threaten our community and will probably never fully go away, Munoz said it’s important to protect younger patients as soon as possible.

“Even if they don’t get very sick, they can still carry the virus and pass it to other people,” she said.

Galvan said she is happy that her child could be paving the way for kids everywhere to have their shot at COVID-19 protection.

“It’s been a tremendous toll, and so, if there’s anything we can do to protect each other, I think we ought to do it with the means that we have,” Galvan said. “My hope is since I’m walking the talk that people will feel encouraged to get the vaccine for their babies when it becomes available.”

If the trials are successful, this young age group could be eligible for a vaccine in the next year.

There are also trials happening now in kids 12 and older. The results for that are expected soon, meaning kids as young as 12 could be getting vaccinated in the next several months.