Why This Bay Area Family Had Their Three-Year-Old Vaccinated
Eloise LaCour clutches her dolly as a nurse takes her blood pressure, then swabs the three-year-oldâs delicate arm with alcohol.Â
âTickle Tickle,â says Eloiseâs mom Angelica LaCour. She’s trying to get a smile. âMommyâs going to hug you, OK?â
The nurse, carefully, gives Eloise her shot. Here at a Stanford University medical facility, she is one of 144 children in the country who are part of a phase one clinical trial to test Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccines in the most adorable of study cohorts â those five and under.
âThatâs it!â exclaims nurse manager Richard Brotherton, pulling the needle out of Eloiseâs arm.Â
Eloise barely flinches. In fact, under her mask it looks like sheâs smiling.Â
âLook at you brave kid,â beams her mom.
The next day, Eloise has yet to complain of any side effects ânot even an ouch in her arm where the needle went in.
While an unfortunate number of people are still hesitating about the remarkably effective vaccines, let alone enrolling their kids in clinical trials, Angelica LaCour speaks of the importance of getting children inoculated.
“I think it’s just really important to highlight that we’re not going to get to herd immunity as a country if children are not vaccinated,” she said. “We don’t know the long-term impacts of the virus. And we know that this is a well-tolerated vaccine that’s saving people’s lives. And it’s important that our children get that as well. ”
Still, the family was initially nervous about enrolling their only daughter in the early trial. But they’ weren’t sure theyâd be any less so in six months, a year, or whenever the official rollout of vaccines for the youngest Americans takes place.
And while Eloise is healthy, “We know that there’s a lot of other families with kids with vulnerabilities where COVID is potentially life-threatening,” La Cour said. “And so being part of making this a reality for those families is something that is really meaningful to us.âÂ
After three weeks itâs time for Eloiseâs second poke. She has decided to dress up as her favorite character fromÂ the Pixar movie âBrave.” This time, she squirms a little more but still doesnât cry.Â
That night she complains her head hurts a little and that her arm is sore. Nothing that canât be solved with a low dose of Tylenol, says her mom. Otherwise sheâs running around
“Lots of energy,” LaCour says.
Now, a couple of days before her father has gotten his second shot, Eloise is one of a small number of children in the country to be fully vaccinated.
Soon the family will start planning a summer vacation.Â
Stanford scientists will track Eloise for the next two years to make sure all goes well. The next phases will involve enrolling many more children, eventually thousands, to study accurate dosage, vaccine safety, immune response and efficacy.Â
Kids Rollout Could Begin Next Fall
Pfizer is planning to apply to the Food and Drug Administration in September for emergency authorization of the vaccine for children ages 2 to 11. Meanwhile, the company is expected to receive permission any day now to vaccinate 12-to-15-year-olds. Moderna is also conducting clinical trials in kids for its vaccine.Â
This science would not be possible without children and parents who are willing to go first, which is why Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Stanford Medicine who is leading the trial, lauds the familyâs courage.Â
âIf we didn’t have clinical trials, we’d have zero vaccines for children,â she said. âAnd we save 3 million lives a year from death due to vaccine-preventable diseases as well.âÂ
Last week the Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey showing fewer than a third of parents reporting plans to get their kids COVID shots as soon as itâs possible. Another 32% said they would “wait and see.”
Health officials hope the hesitation eases over time, as it did for adult vaccines. The current survey percentages are similar to what U.S. adults expressed in a KFF September survey, in which 34% of adults said they would get a vaccine “right away,” with 29% in the wait-and see-camp.Â
Getting parents on board is critical to stamping out the virus and reaching herd immunity, that by now almost mythical juncture when the vast majority of a population will be protected from COVID.
âWe need to make sure that we can limit transmission,â said Maldonado. âAnd if we can reach children, that really gets to a fairly large segment of the US population.â
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