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Child-based Moderna COVID-19 vaccine study underway in Arizona

(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

PHOENIX — A nationwide COVID-19 vaccine study that seeks the effectiveness of the shots for young children is underway in Arizona.

Moderna announced Tuesday it is beginning a trial of its vaccine for children younger than 12 — one that will include babies as young as 6 months.

Dr. Steve Plimpton, the principal investigator for the study in Arizona, told ABC15 his office is already receiving calls from families interested in the study.

“Even this morning when I got here, they’re on the phones, hang up, another call, hang up, another call,” Plimpton said Monday. “Even people who don’t live here, we’ve had calls from Georgia, calls from Tucson who want to drive up and get their kids vaccinated.”

The study aims to eventually enroll about 6,750 children in the U.S. and Canada. That’s after a phase-in portion to determine the best dose to test in children age 2 and older and the right dose in those younger than 2.

Dr. Michael White, chief clinical officer at Valleywise Health, encourages prospective parents to consider the study and weigh the benefits and risks for their children.

“I certainly think it’s a welcome opportunity where all of our manufacturers of our vaccines to broaden our ability to vaccinate a larger percentage of the population,” White said Tuesday during a press conference. “A key method for us to do that is to immunize children in this.”

The announcement comes exactly a year after the first adult received a test dose of the shot, created at the National Institutes of Health. It’s now being used across the U.S. and in multiple other countries.

Moderna also has tested the vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds but hasn’t yet released the findings. The study in younger children will be more complex, because researcher need to determine whether to use smaller doses than in adults and adolescents.

ABC15 said Arizona parents interested in enrolling their kids in the trials can call 602-368-1928 or 602-241-1717 for more information.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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For Arizona vaccine information, visit azdhs.gov/findvaccine.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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