Jacksonville family participates in COVID-19 vaccine trial

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A family of four is participating in area COVID-19 vaccine trials, including their youngest daughter.

This is as Pfizer waits for the green light from the Food and Drug Administration to allow those ages 12 to 15 to be eligible for the vaccine.

The father, Richard Malzahn, was the first to join the Pfizer study back in September 2020. His daughter, 16, later joined the study in January 2021.

And while she did end up getting the placebo, she’s been fully vaccinated for over two months now.

Emily Malzahn, a sophomore at Bishop Kenny High School, said, “I feel perfectly fine. I feel no lingering effects.”

QUICK LINKS: How to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment in the Jacksonville area

Following her father’s footsteps, Emily Malzahn was one of the first teens in the country to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

For the first Pfizer shot, she just felt soreness in her arm.

“After the second one, I had a fever over 100, and I got the worst chills,” she said.

She’s felt great ever since.

Her father told Action News Jax after much research, he felt safe having her be a part of the study.

He said, “They were really thorough when they put us through the study and all that, so I knew it wasn’t just a rush job to get something out there, so I feel a lot of confidence in it.”

Action News Jax’s medical expert, Dr. Michelle Aquino, said we could be just a few months away from a safe and effective vaccine being available for children ages 12 to 15.

CORONAVIRUS STORY: Dr. Aquino explains: The difference between the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

She said, “When Pfizer finished their study, they have great results. Right now, the study showed 100% efficacy of the vaccine used in that age group.”

Richard Malzahn said the experience has been great.

“We weren’t that worried about getting it ourselves because we’re all healthy, but the main thing is you don’t spread it to anybody and an opportunity to advance the science,” he said.