Orlando pediatric center begins COVID-19 vaccine trials for children

Clinical trials for kids ages 12 to 17

ORLANDO, Fla. – The first trials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials for children 12 to 17 years old began at Orlando’s Nona Pediatrics Center.

“I feel fine. My shoulder is a little sore just cause of the vaccine, but that’s it,” said Bella Truxall, 16, after she received the first of two doses.

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Truxall is an avid volleyball player and frequently goes on tournament trips, which she said played a major factor in her decision to be part of this trial.

“Being around a bunch of people, going to volleyball tournaments; we go to Tampa, Orlando, Georgia, so there’s just a lot of people around,” Truxall said.

It was a significant day for her mother, Rachel, who encouraged her to be part of the trial and drove from Port Orange to Orlando with her.

“It’s really significant. She played volleyball at a tournament last weekend, we’re getting ready to go to Atlanta tomorrow,” Rachel Truxall said. “Part of me wants to not allow her to do these things and I did it, she wasn’t allowed, and as we re-engaged, I just feel like -- I don’t know like there’s a light in the horizon.”

After receiving the first dose, the teen had to stay under observation for about an hour. She then will have to return to the center in 28 days for the second dose.

“It’s really important. I feel like her life was halted last year; a lot of us our lives,” Rachel Truxall said. “It makes me feel better as she plays sports and goes face to face that maybe she has some protection, and then in the long side of it it is a pretty historic event to even take part in a trial such as this.”

According to Dr. Salma Elfaki, Bella is the first in her age group to get the vaccine trial.

“Bella is a very lucky lady. She is the first Pediatric patient in the state of Florida to receive the investigational product,” Elfaki said, adding her pediatrics center is the only location in Florida running a trial on minors.

Elfaki is the owner of Nona Pediatrics Center and an investigator working with Accel Research Sites on the Moderna COVID-19 clinical trials for minors. So far, 400 minors have registered to be part of what’s called a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial.

“This is the gold standard when you’re doing clinical trials. Basically, neither the patient nor the investigator knows what the patient is getting. This is to counteract any biases or any kind of unintended effects that could happen if you thought you were getting the vaccine or you thought you were getting the placebo,” Elfaki said.

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