ADAMS CENTER — At just 3 years old, Annie M. Rogers is participating in a clinical trial that may have a lasting impact on the nation and world.

The young Jefferson County resident is part of a 14-month COVID-19 vaccine trial with Moderna for children ages 6 months to 5 years old, to see how the vaccine affects young children. In Cortland, where she has been traveling periodically for trial visits, Annie received her second dose of either the vaccine or a placebo last Monday.

Annie’s parents, Matthew A. and Holly M. Rogers, are both vaccinated. Once some time had passed, they realized that they still had a vulnerable child out and exposed to others each day without protection.

“I wondered if there’d be any sort of trials out there still accepting people for her age group,” Mr. Rogers said. “Shockingly, a couple of Google searches later, I found one in Central New York.”

He pitched the idea to Mrs. Rogers, who said the family should consult their pediatrician to see what they had to say. Mr. Rogers said they have a fantastic pediatrician who was thorough and gave their solid “blessing” that what they were looking to do was important and safe, and that they should move forward with it if possible. This was the confirmation the couple needed to ensure what they were doing was the right thing for Annie.

Mr. Rogers quickly jumped at the chance to sign up. He got one of the limited spots, and Annie’s first visit was on Veterans Day.

According to Mr. Rogers, the trial requires a certain amount of visits to the center in Cortland. During that time, children receive a two-dose regimen of either the vaccine or a placebo. He said 3 out of 4 get the vaccine, while one will receive a placebo. There is also blood work involved in the visits, as well as COVID-19 testing.

“You have to report to them daily on things like symptoms, different ailments the kid may be having,” Mr. Rogers said. “It’s fun to ask her on a daily basis after these visits: ‘Annie. tell me, are you cold today? Have you thrown up today? Does your arm hurt? Does your body hurt?’ And she would answer them; we made her just as big of a part of the process because it’s all about her.”

While Annie’s parents are hopeful and fairly confident their daughter has received an actual vaccine series and not just a placebo, they will not know for sure until sometime next year.

In a typical study, participants do not find out what they received until the trial ends, but those involved in this trial will be notified as soon as an emergency youth vaccine authorization is issued for the age group because those conducting the study don’t want people inadvertently getting another dose of the vaccine too quickly.

“It’s an odd feeling because everybody has stories of somebody they know or themselves who got walloped over the doses when being vaccinated,” Mr. Rogers said. “So you don’t want your kid to be sick from it, but in some crazy way you want them to be sick so you know that it seems promising that they would have gotten the vaccine and not the placebo.”

Mr. Rogers said Annie had no reaction besides being tired after her first dose, and experiencing a sore arm after the second.

“The team of the study don’t know, we don’t know,” Mr. Rogers said about knowing for sure whether Annie is fully vaccinated. “We’re just kind of going to play the odds and hope she’s vaccinated.”

He said he did as much research as possible that he could find on reactions so far from the 5-to-11 age group, and the 12-17 group, and said it seemed resounding that the younger you are, the less of a reaction you have. That has given him hope and confidence that she received actual doses of the vaccine.

Aside from desiring protection for Annie while in a daycare setting every weekday — a “cauldron of kids and germs,” as Mr. Rogers put it — the family is also hoping, like many, to return to some sense of normalcy.

This is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something the couple felt they had to take, to be able to tell Annie that what she got to experience was beneficial for people across the country and around the world.

“Not many kids can say they were part of something that helped the world and it’s cool to be able to do that for her,” Mr. Rogers said.

Annie’s parents described as a very bright girl. When the family embarked on this journey, they wanted to break down the process so she could understand what was going on. They talked about wearing masks, not being able to see certain friends and family and knowing that there’s a virus going around. They told her that what she gets to work with is going to help keep her safe and perhaps help end all of this.

Mr. Rogers said the clinical trial has been phenomenal so far, just another adventure in the lives of the Rogers family, and gave kudos to all involved that are doing the work.

While the major visits are over, trial staff will be checking in on Annie. The family has to complete a sort of diary entry every couple of weeks for the next year or so, and they’re going to count down the days to know for sure what Annie received. The family will be traveling to Florida in a couple of days, and Mr. Rogers said it is a reassuring feeling that everybody in the family is as protected as possible while they fly down.

The hardest part of the process for Annie has been knowing that every time she travels to Cortland, some form of needle will be involved. But the family works to keep her mind off that, to varying degrees of success. Mr. Rogers said Annie didn’t do a great job with the needles, but she rebounded quickly.

Although Mr. and Mrs. Rogers have seen how beneficial it has been for them to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as adults, Mr. Rogers acknowledges that everyone must make the decision that’s best for their family and respects the decisions of others.

“I’m not a scientist, I’m not a doctor — I’m a dad,” he said. “I went with people that I knew could help because of what they deal with every day. They helped us make the best decision for our family, which ultimately is what we did and hopefully families will really think it over and do what’s going to be best for all involved.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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