Atrium Health is launching a new COVID-19 vaccine trial in children and teens, hospital officials announced Friday.
The clinical trial is open to 12- to 17-year-olds. Enrollment for the trial closes May 21.
The trial is for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, a protein-based vaccine. That’s the same type of vaccine as the hepatitis B vaccine and the pertussis vaccine, according to Atrium. The Novavax vaccine does not have a live COVID-19 virus in it.
The news of the vaccine trial for children comes ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s pending decision on allowing the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in 12 to 15-year-olds. The FDA is expected to authorize that usage by early next week.
The Atrium trial gives Charlotte-area parents another option to get their kids vaccinated against the coronavirus. Everyone who takes part in the trial will get the study vaccine within the first six months of the trial, according to Atrium.
The study enrolled its first participant on Thursday, Atrium’s Dr. Christine Turley told reporters Friday. Turley is leading the study for Atrium Health.
Atrium Health has been participating in the adult trial of the Novavax vaccine since January, with 267 adults enrolled, Turley said
“All of our kids have been so affected by COVID-19 this year — every part of their lives have been disrupted,” Turley said. “So being a part of the solution... our kids need to be part of that work too.”
Two-year vaccine study planned
Researchers in the U.S. have been studying the Novavax vaccine in adults since last summer, according to Atrium.
Data from a U.K. Novavax trial showed the vaccine gave 100% protection against severe disease in about 20,000 adults and about 90% overall effectiveness in study participants.
The trial will follow participants for about two years. The study involves several visits over the first six weeks, and another series of visits after six months.
The two-year study will include seven blood tests and two nose swabs for COVID-19.
Parents or legal guardians can register their children for the study using the STRIVE Vaccine Research Registry online at https://atriumhealth.org/about-us/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-trial.
The National Institutes of Health will give a stipend to participants and families for taking part in the study, according to Atrium. The hospital system did not release the amount of the stipend.
Though there could be another COVID-19 vaccine available to kids age 12 and up as early as next week, there may be some other benefits to enrolling in a clinical trial, Turley said.
That includes active safety monitoring and regular visits with health care professionals, Turley said.
Plus, she added, teens who participate will get a chance to be “a part of history.”