Pfizer, Kaiser team up to expand COVID-19 vaccine trials to younger teens

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- On the heels of news drug maker, Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine trials are 95 percent effective in adults, the study is now expanding to younger teens.

Dr. Nicola Kline heads up Kaiser Permanente's Vaccine Study Center. She explained the importance of trials for young people.

"Teenagers and younger children are thought not to get as much disease, especially younger children in terms of severity. But it's impacted their life just as much as everyone else's life. It's critical we develop vaccines eventually that can be administered to anyone," said Dr. Kline.

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Researchers at Kaiser in Santa Clara and Sacramento hope to enroll 2,000 young people in the double-blind study. Where two doses are administered 21-days apart. Half will receive a placebo while the other half the vaccine.

17-year-old Allyson Eisenman is a student at Branham High School in San Jose who participated in the trial for 16-and-17-year-olds.

When asked why she wanted to participate she said it was because of what she witnessed among young people during the pandemic.

"Especially during Halloween, I heard a lot of parties going on, with a lot of people not social distancing or wearing masks and that's the worst possible thing you can do right now, it's so selfish," said Eisenman. "I didn't want to do that and I wanted to do what I can to help."

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Allyson's mother is a nurse at Kaiser who participated in the adult portion of the trial, along with her father Jeff. He experienced symptoms the day after his first dose.

"I felt poor, lethargic. I didn't change my routine but I did feel lethargic. There's an inference that you've got something but nothing specific."
Allyson didn't experience any symptoms but continues to check in with Kaiser daily.

"They ask me about my symptoms and I log that in an app on my phone. It takes 30 seconds. I take my temperature to make sure I don't have a fever every week and it's really easy."

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Pfizer is already one of the first to test those 18 and under, 12 to 15-year-olds will soon participate in the coming weeks.

The study will continue for two years.

If you'd like to participate, you do have to be part of the Kaiser system. More information can be found here.

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