Infants receive Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in new trial on children as young as six months

The trial is testing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine on children from six months to 11 years.

With a COVID mortality rate of less than one-tenth of a percent among all children, vaccine-maker Moderna is beginning tests on kids from ages six months to 11 years, in an effort to widen the vaccination eligible population.

The first children have received at least one dose in the study that is being conducted along with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While several companies have received emergency authorization for their vaccines in adults, no coronavirus vaccine has been authorized for anyone under 16.

Children have rarely experienced severe cases of the virus. But they can still become infected without symptoms, so vaccine manufacturers want to protect them and the adults they're around while also increasing the population-level immunity, which could result in further easing of pandemic restrictions.

"This pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population," Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said.

Health officials have suggested that if the results of the study find the vaccine to be safe and effective among children, middle- and high school students could be authorized for the vaccine by the fall, followed by access for elementary school children in 2022.

The Moderna study aims to enroll about 6,750 children and include a two-part trial, examining the immune response to different dose levels in the first part, then examining safety, tolerability and effectiveness in different subjects during the second part.

Pfizer and Moderna last year began testing the vaccine in children over 12, with results still pending. But vaccine testing in pediatric patients is just beginning for Moderna. Johnson & Johnson planning to begin a similar study soon.