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Port Lavaca clinic participating in Moderna vaccine trial | Covid-19


A Port Lavaca clinic is participating in Moderna’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccine trial for kids between the ages of 6 months and 12 years.

Port Lavaca Clinic Associates is joining with Crossroads Clinical Research of Victoria to serve as one of multiple clinical sites throughout the country that will help evaluate how well Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine protects kids from the disease.

“With these trials, you’re truly making a difference,” said Dr. John Clinton, a pediatrician with the Port Lavaca clinic who is leading the local trial. “You’re truly making a difference and setting kids up to literally change the world.”

Moderna launched a clinical trial evaluating its COVID-19 vaccine in kids aged 12 to 17 in December, and data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in older kids is expected later this year. In March, the first kids began receiving doses of the vaccine in the trial for younger children.

In all, Moderna hopes to enroll 6,750 pediatric participants in the U.S. and Canada in the study, according to a news release from the company. Some of those 6,750 kids will be Crossroads-area children participating in potentially groundbreaking research that could continue to pave the long road out of the pandemic.

Any vaccine developed for kids is tested in adults first, said Dr. Anna Durbin, a principal investigator with the Johns Hopkins Center for Immunization Research, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. Even for diseases that typically only affect young children, like pneumococcal diseases, vaccines will still be tested in adults first, she said.

“We don’t want to evaluate any vaccines in kids that have not first been evaluated in adults for both safety and, if we can, for efficacy,” Durbin said.

The Moderna trial for kids is split into two sections. First, kids will be injected with doses of the vaccine and monitored for safety and how protective the vaccine is. Kids in the first section will receive differently sized doses to indicate the dose that is safest and best provides protection. In the second section, some kids will receive a dose of the vaccine, and some will receive a placebo shot of salt water. Neither the children, their families nor the researchers conducting the study locally will know whether kids are receiving the vaccine or the placebo.

Although the coronavirus is less likely to cause severe illness in children, pediatric deaths are rare but still possible. Of the more than 550,000 people in the U.S. who have died from COVID-19, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that less than 0.2% of those deaths were in children 17 and younger. It’s unclear whether the virus could cause any long term impacts on children who are infected, but there have been rare but serious cases of a reaction named multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children infected with the virus.

Experts also said vaccinating children will be essential to the goal of reaching herd immunity and halting the spread and evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Even if all adults over the age of 18 were vaccinated, Durbin said, unvaccinated children would still leave a population sector susceptible to the virus.

If kids and teenagers aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, Durbin said, “then you have this whole population where the virus can infect, can mutate, become more transmissible, become more virulent.”

As long as the virus can continue to spread from person to person, it can continue to mutate.

“If significant transmission can occur, you’re going to continue to see the development of variants, and it’s going to take us a lot longer to get out of the pandemic,” Durbin said.

Multiple variants of the coronavirus have already been identified throughout the world. At least two of these variants are thought to spread more easily from person to person, a worrying sign for the future of the pandemic because a virus that spreads more easily will infect more people and, ultimately, cause more serious illnesses and deaths.

Ciara McCarthy covers public health and health care for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at or at 580-6597. To support local journalism at the Advocate through Report for America, go to


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