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UF Health Jacksonville launches COVID vaccine trial for children 2, under

UF Health is one of 100 sites across the country enrolling 150 children in Moderna's study. Four children are part of the study at UF Health that started Wednesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UF Health in Jacksonville has launched a COVID-19 trial for kids ages two and under.

The hospital is one of 100 sites across the country, enrolling a total of 150 children as part of the Moderna study. Four children are part of the study at UF Health that started Wednesday.

“You always have to really appreciate the people who participated in the study, parents and the actual participants, because, you know, they are going above and beyond the call of duty," Dr. Mobeen Rathore, the chief of infectious diseases at UF Health, said.

"We had more parents who wanted their kids on the study than we could do. We had an overwhelming response," he said. "I think a lot of the parents understand the vaccine is important to protect their children and the others in the household," Rathore said.

Rathore assured parents that the vaccine is safe. He said billions of doses have been administered around the world, proving the vaccine is safe.

"Every child, every individual should get the vaccine. So, we have studied all age groups. This is just the youngest age group and its often the last one to be tested because you want to make sure that you know, it's safe and effective in the adults, the adolescents, the older children and the youngest," Rathore said.

The trial comes as the FDA met Thursday to discuss rules for allowing kids under 12-years-old to get the shot. 

Moderna also asked the FDA Thursday to authorize its vaccine for kids ages 12 to 17-years-old. Pfizer's approval for this age group took about a month. Rathore said Moderna's will be about the same, but he hopes it's faster.

"We need to get more vaccines out there for everybody. I think it's important that we have vaccines available for all age groups, including children, so we can get back to our normal lives, both for children and for adults," he said.

If you can get the shot now, Rathore repeated the message he has for months. “This vaccine is safe, is effective and everyone should get it so that we can all get back to normal life," he said.

Rathore said he expects kids two and under nationwide to be able to get the shot by the end of this year, or early next year. He expects six to 12-year-olds to be able to get the shot by August of this year.