Kansas City-area family shares Children's Mercy pediatric vaccine trial experience

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Posted at 6:20 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 19:20:48-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Phase 1 of the Pfizer vaccine trials are currently underway at Children's Mercy Hospital. The trials include children 6 months old to 11 years old.

For Kansas City residents Michael and Johanna Kelley, enrolling their 2-year-old daughter Nora, in the trial meant protecting her against COVID-19.

"I am way more confident in a vaccine that millions of people have received than a virus that millions of people have died of," Johanna Kelley said.

That's the short and simple answer she gives when asked why she feels a COVID-19 vaccine is safe for her daughter.

The couple saw what COVID-19 is capable of first-hand when Michael Kelley's parents tested positive for the virus.

"Seeing your parents in the hospital and wondering is this the last time I’m going to get to see them is incredibly terrifying," he said.

Nora received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Mid-April. She, and the other pediatric participants, receive a much smaller amount of the vaccine than adults. The first phase of the study is focused on finding the right amount of vaccine for kids in the age group.

Researchers then test her antibodies through blood draws and swabs to see if she is reaching the same level as adults.

Dr. Barbara Pahud, research director of Pediatrics Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy, is leading the trial. Pahud said the hospital works to make the experience as comfortable as possible for little ones like Nora.

"We are going to be giving numbing agents to the children before they get their blood draws," Pahud said.

Nora's parents say the trials give them peace of mind. They trust she's in good hands. Plus, they say she's a tough cookie.

"She’s a trooper, and she’s able to roll with everything pretty well and some ice cream here or there doesn’t hurt either," Michael Kelley said.

There's no set date for when phase 2 begins, which will randomize participants in a 2:1 ratio to receive active vaccine or placebo.