DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — In both Wake and Durham counties, nearly a third of children ages 5 to 11 have received their first COVID-19 vaccine.
For now, children younger than that aren’t eligible for vaccine shots, but trials for babies and toddlers are happening now in the Triangle.
Dr. Sonali Bracken is a rheumatologist and immunologist at Duke. She’s also a mom of a 3-year-old and a 12-month-old, who are both too young to really remember a world before the pandemic.
“A lot of my family hasn’t even met my daughter yet,” Dr. Bracken said.
She hopes vaccines will soon enable children under 5 to enjoy more of the experiences they’ve missed, while keeping them and their family members healthy. That’s why she enrolled her son and daughter in the COVID-19 vaccine trial.
“My family wants to do its part,” she explained, adding that she believes vaccines are important for this age group.
“Even though the risk of death and hospitalization is not high, I think one thing we don’t talk about is the risks beyond hospitalization and death – the trauma of potentially seeing and spreading it to family members and watching family members end up in the hospital, the trauma of having to live with long COVID symptoms which we know plagues the pediatric population just as much as it plagues the adult population,” Bracken said.
Her children in the trial received their vaccines in August. She doesn’t yet know whether they got the real thing or a placebo, but she says neither had much reaction to the shot. While she’s hopeful they got the actual vaccine, she says she’ll continue taking precautions until she knows for sure.
“Life has gone back to normal for a lot of people,” she said. “But those of us with young kids who are unvaccinated are still very much kind of living in seclusion and a little bit of a bubble.”
Pfizer has said in the past it’s hoping to have data from its vaccine trials on children younger than 5 by the end of the year or beginning of next year.
The FDA would then analyze that data before the shot could be authorized in that age group.