Is Moderna right to test COVID vaccine on children?


Fact Box

  • As of Tuesday, March 16, there have been 30 million coronavirus cases in the United States, and 548.344 reported deaths. 
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, by March 11, the number of coronavirus cases of children totaled 3.3 million. Of all cases, 0% to .19% were child deaths, with 10 states reporting none.
  • There are currently three COVID vaccines: Pfizer - BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines and require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine in one dose. 
  • Routine immunizations for children include 14 vaccines for vaccine-preventable diseases like the Chickenpox, Hepatitis, Polio, and Tetanus.
  • Potential side effects of vaccines are well-known: fever, headache, dizziness, severe allergic reaction, and seizure. If a child has an allergic reaction to a certain vaccine, the primary care doctor will suspend the following dose.

Bill (No)

Moderna is wrong to test the COVID vaccine on children. Children have virtually no risk from COVID even if they test positive for it. Children's immune systems have a 99.97% to 100% chance of keeping them safe from COVID—this compares favorably with Moderna's claimed efficacy rates of 82% after one shot and 95% after two injections. There is absolutely no reason why children need the COVID-19 vaccine, especially since there have been 1,637 reported deaths in the US of those receiving the vaccine (as of March 8th). As troubling as the reported fatalities attributed to the COVID vaccine is the remarkably high upper range of adverse effects reported by the FDA of 9.7%. Are parents prepared to sign their child up for a vaccine that has a one in ten chance of harming or killing him or her?

It's important to note that Moderna's vaccine is unapproved by the FDA and was given an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA. Moderna is required to provide recipients of the vaccine details including 'the significant known and potential risks…and the extent to which such risks…are unknown.' The emergency use authorization was granted because the FDA deemed COVID to be a public health threat. The key difference between an EUA and an FDA approval is the amount of supporting data and the length of time to collect the data. An FDA approval would normally take up to ten times as long as it took Moderna to receive an EUA. The full extent of the resulting harm from the COVID vaccine can't be known. Children should not be exposed to an experimental, unapproved vaccine—the risks are, simply put, much too great.

Andrew (Yes)

Vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna need data from all age groups to make effective vaccines that keep the public safe; they are right to test their medicines on children. It will come as no surprise that children, though often having less severe symptoms than adults, are susceptible to COVID-19. Once older and more vulnerable populations have received their vaccines, children will be given the medicine. Therefore, it is critical these medical professionals have the data they need to ensure their products' efficacy and safety when given to children. Children's developing immune systems can have different responses from adults, and it is important to study vaccine efficacy in them. It is especially necessary that the vaccine be highly effective in children, given that we know how children can act as vectors of disease.

Vaccine testing in children isn't a scary new concept brought on by the current pandemic. In fact, both Moderna and Pfizer have been testing their vaccines on children as young as twelve since December of 2020. It makes sense that they would now move to test on younger populations, given the knowledge and expertise gained from their previous trials. Vaccines are typically tested in children because they are usually given as immunizations in childhood in normal times. After the mad rush of pandemic vaccination is over, the COVID-19 vaccination may well become just another normal vaccine as common as MMR that children need to build healthy immune responses. It makes sense that manufacturers would need to test these products in the populations that will eventually receive them.

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