A 9-year-old Bryan boy is playing his part in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 through volunteering for vaccine trials.
Nolan Roberts is the son of Oakley and Mindy Roberts and had his first shot in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials for children younger than 11 years old in Dayton last week.
Nolan’s interest in testing the vaccine likely came from his older brother’s interest in testing it for teens (that trial vaccine site didn’t get off the ground) as well as lessons from his parents during the last year.
“Throughout the whole pandemic, we’ve been teaching the kids we’re wearing our masks to protect others, we’re doing what we can to protect others and to help others through this,” Mindy said. “The Pfizer trial came up and Nolan said ‘Mom, can I do it if they have one for my age group?’ and I said ‘Yep.’”
After doing some research, they signed him up as a potential candidate for a trial site in Dayton and got a call back. When they went over the possible side effects with Nolan, Mindy said he was still interested. So, he became one of 25 kids to get the shot in Dayton.
Nolan had his first shot on June 10 and will be back for his second dose in three weeks.
“No one knows what (the shot) was, it’s either the real thing or a placebo; They said for every two kids who get the real shot, one will get the placebo,” Mindy said. “We fill a diary out at night for this first week to record symptoms or anything that may possibly pop up that could have been caused by the shot. If he would happen to get COVID, they would want to know that.”
After the second shot, they have a few follow-up appointments or calls to see how he’s doing. In six months they will learn if he had the real thing or the placebo. If he had the placebo, he’d then be able to get the real thing.
That process could be expedited, Mindy said, if the vaccine is approved before that six-month time frame.
Additionally, Nolan will have up to 11 planned visits over the course of two years.
So far, Nolan has handled the shot well.
“He did have a slight headache that night and a little bit the next morning but we have no idea if it was a headache from the shot or if he didn’t drink enough,” Mindy said before light-heartedly adding: “Part of me hopes the next shot will have a little more side effects of some sort so we know it’s the real thing.”
She and Oakley were excited and proud of their son for his interest in the trial.
“It was him, he made the decision and asked about it,” Mindy said. “We did our research and felt comfortable with the safety of the shot.”
Through their research, she learned the dosage for kids his age was a third of what it was for teenagers and adults (10 micrograms vs 30 micrograms) which calmed some of her fears.
“That made me feel better. I think if they were giving him an adult dose that would have made me a little more nervous,” she said. “We were really proud; We were not really concerned.”
That’s not to say Mindy didn’t have second thoughts, texting her friend the night before his first shot asking if she was doing the right thing.
Her friend was supportive, saying she was simply doing what a normal parent would do.
“She was right, I felt the same way when I got the shot,” Mindy said. “We went down the next morning very calm, I wasn’t nervous a bit.”