Novavax clinical COVID-19 vaccine trial to begin for Jacksonville-area teens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Parents will have the opportunity to get their younger teens vaccinated starting this week.

The Novavax clinical trial will include children ages 12 to 17 years.

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Seventy clinics in the U.S., including Encore research group on the Southside, are set to begin a clinical trial of about 3,000 children nationwide using the Novavax vaccine.

Shanda Nicco enrolled her 16-year-old Myles who is set to get the vaccine Saturday.

“One of our reasons for all of us getting vaccinated is we have family back in North Carolina that are immune compromised,” Nicco said.

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Everyone in the trial will eventually get the two-dose vaccine, but to start, one-third will get a saline shot.

Novavax is different from the traditional Johnson & Johnson and the MRNA Moderna and Pfizer options. Novavax is a protein-based vaccine.

Medical experts including Dr. Michael Korin, who is overseeing the local clinical trial, is concerned we won’t reach herd immunity without the participation of children.

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“In order for us to get this pandemic in the rearview mirror, we need to get to a certain level where there is immunity as a population. So, herd immunity, that’s between 70 and 90 percent of population,” Korin said.

Action News Jax dug through state reports to find the number of local children testing positive for COVID-19.

In the nine Florida counties that Action News Jax covers, more than 20,000 children — 20,246 — have been infected.

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Union County has the highest percentage of children testing positive (15.8%), followed by Columbia County and Putnam County.

State data does not separate children entirely by who has been vaccinated, but instead groups them by ages 16 to 24.

St. Johns has by far the highest percentage with nearly 35% of young people vaccinated, followed by Duval (15.9%) and Nassau (15%) counties.

The FDA is expected to authorize use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 by next week.