CLEVELAND — When Ohio's COVID-19 case levels were lower at the end of the summer, Pfizer halted recruitment for it's vaccine trial. Now that we're in a significant climb, recruiting has resumed, but now University Hospitals has the green light to recruit younger people and those with compromised immunities.
"Including those between the ages of 12 and 17," UH Infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Salata told 3News, "and also they've asked to enroll controlled HIV-infected individuals and those with hepatitis C because those will be in the broader spectrum of the population of individuals that we want to know about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine."
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Salata believes Pfizer will eventually start sub studies of even younger children and pregnant women. He expects the vaccine to be available by the end of the year to front line workers and the most vulnerable.
Additionally, AstraZeneca announced it will soon resume testing its vaccine in the U.S., and Salata says UH will be part of that study as well.
We're heading into cold and flu season, but the precautions we're taking for COVID (masking, hand hygiene, and distancing) may be helping to curb other respiratory illnesses in kids. However, it's had a far more dramatic impact on influenza cases in the southern hemisphere.
"In the entire country of South Africa. they experienced one documented case," Salata said. "In Australia, they see about 70,000 cases anually, and they've only had 70."
Still, doctors advise getting a flu shot this year, especially since COVID-19 cases are rising.
"There is concern that we may have a "twindemic" of coronavirus and influenza, and the symptoms are overlapping and sometimes difficult to distinguish," Salata said.
Meanwhile, he advises parents to make sure to keep up with routine child vaccines. Many have put off seeing their pediatricians during the pandemic, and there's concern we might have yet another problem facing us.
"We saw what happened last year with measles when people, for other reasons, refused the MMR," Salata explained. "I think we could be seeing that forthcoming if parents don't take their children in for standard vaccinations."
If you have interest in being part of the COVID-19 clinical vaccine trial, call (833) 788-7425.