‘This is history’: Austin adolescents sign up for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Moderna is looking for 3,000 more people to take part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial. This time it’s for adolescents.

One research company in Austin is beginning its trial next week and is asking young people to consider participating.

“My mom’s a health care worker. She’s a paramedic, and she comes home, and she’s sometimes exhausted,” said 12-year-old Michael.

He’s been watching his mom, Danielle Collins, tackle COVID-19 on the front lines for almost a year now.

“He’s the child of a health care provider, and he hears the stories, and he understands the burden, and I think he’s anxious to get past this as well,” Collins said.

Michael (left) and Danielle Collins (right). (Photo courtesy Danielle Collins)

So, when the family heard Moderna was looking for 12 to 17 year olds for a vaccine trial, Michael didn’t hesitate.

“As soon as I brought it up, he said ‘yes, yes, yes,'” Collins said.

Benchmark Research CEO Mark Lacy says they are looking for 25 adolescents but will welcome more than that.

“We’d like to meet and of course exceed that goal,” Lacy said.

He says the trial is scheduled to start next Thursday and participants will be compensated.

“Since they’ve already done, basically the same trial with a different age group, then we have a lot of scientific data already lined up,” Lacy said.

Benchmark Research in Austin has conducted five COVID-19 vaccine trials so far and have three more coming up, including the Moderna teen trial next week.

That’s why Saberian Younger’s 16-year-old also agreed to sign up.

“I’m pretty familiar with the science,” Younger said. “My only question… with him was: Do you trust me enough to just make the decision, or do you want to do further research?”

Younger, a retired paramedic, says his son was on-board right away.

“He didn’t really even hesitate. He really understands, kind of, the [pandemic] and, you know, the science behind that,” Younger said.

“It’s been a physically difficult year at work, it’s been an emotionally difficult year at work,” says Danielle Collins. (Photo courtesy Danielle Collins)

Benchmark Research says the trial will last about 14 months.

For Collins, who receives her second dose of the Moderna vaccine next week, she sees the medicine as a light at the end of a very long tunnel.

“It was such a relief of a burden that I knew was heavy, but I didn’t know how heavy until I received that vaccine and started to feel a little bit more confident that, ‘I’m going to make it through this alright,'” Collins said.

Michael hopes his participation in the trial means not only he can get the vaccine sooner, but his friends, too, once it’s authorized for use.

“I’m happy that, you know, this is history,” he said.

A Pfizer vaccine trial for adolescents has already begun. Austin Regional Clinic says they enrolled participants for that back in October. They tell KXAN they expect to start another Pfizer vaccine study for 5 to 11 year olds early this summer.

Benchmark Research says they also hope to start a Moderna pediatric COVID-19 trial for younger children, but that study has not been awarded yet, and the company should find out within the next month or so.

You can find out more about requirements for the upcoming Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial for adolescents here.

You can reach out to Benchmark Research to participate by filling out this online form or calling 1 (888) 902-9605.

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