Houston research group prepares to conduct COVID-19 vaccine trials in young children

For Carolyn Shurer, deciding to enroll her 18-month-old son, Clark, in a COVID-19 vaccine trial was an easy choice. 

"Really the only way to protect him is if he gets the vaccine, and for me the trial is just a way to get him the vaccine sooner," she told FOX 26.

The vaccine trial she hopes her son will be approved for is led by Ventavia Research Group in the Houston. Dr. Renu Garg, a local pediatrician with a private practice, is the principal investigator.

"I'm responsible for agreeing to vaccinate the child and to help deal with the consequences if there is a problem," Garg explained.


She understand it's a huge responsibility, but says she's believes in the mRNA technology used in the two COVID-19 vaccines. 

"I am a absolute believer. I was the first vaccine recipient with Ventavia [Research Group] on August 12," Garg added.

Ventavia Research Group gave FOX 26 a look inside their lab in the Greater Heights.

They have already conducted COVID-19 vaccine trials in nearly 400 adults and teens. In the coming weeks, they'll expand to children as young as six months.

"The study is FDA approved, and the study is FDA monitored," said Lizatte Martinez, Ventavia Research Group Team Lead, for the trial. 

She says hundreds of parents have already signed up on their website to be contacted with more information. The group is still recruiting participants.

Martinez says once Dr. Garg completed a physical exam and clears a child to get the vaccine, her team will schedule the vaccines and regular lab work for the participants, including nasal swabs. They will monitor the participants.

"We have access to their diary 24 hours. We have a coordinator on call who is reviewing this," she explained.


Martinez says her group is also responsible for inputing data from the trial that is sent to the pharmaecutical company, and, ultimately, the FDA.

"There is no shot that we can give adults that we cannot give to a child. If it's safe for an adult, it's safe for a child," said Dr. Garg.

She argues that fact that more than 130 million doses of the vaccines have been administered in the U.S., along with the trial data from thousands of participants, is enough assurance that the vaccine is safe.

Shurer agrees.

"The children are not guinea pigs," Shurer said. "It's not like we have no information at all. There's a lot of information that these vaccines are going to be safe and that they're going to be effective."