The latest clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine is happening in the Bay Area, and this time the focus is on younger teenagers.

Kaiser Permanente has been testing the vaccine on 16- and 17-year-olds for weeks now at locations in Sacramento and Santa Clara. Now, it wants to expand the testing to include 12- to 15-year-olds.

“It’s really impacted their life just like it’s impacted everyone else in the world so it’s very critical that we actually, eventually, develop a vaccine that can be administered to anyone,” Dr. Nicola Klein said.

Allyson Eisenman, 17, of Santa Clara said she decided to sign up for the trial because she wants to be part of a solution.

“Teenagers are probably one of the most irresponsible people during the pandemic,” she said. “I wanted to do what I can to help get us out.”

Both of her parents participated in the adult study, too. Her mother is a nurse with Kaiser and they’re all members of the Kaiser network, which is one of the requirements for participating in the study.

“My parents had both already done it and they only had slight flu symptoms for a day so I knew that that’s probably the worst that would happen to me,” Eisenman said. “I didn’t feel like I was in any danger.”

Klein said this next Kaiser study will run for two years and, ideally, they will enroll about 100 participants in the 16- to 17-year-old age group and 100 in the 12- to 15-year-old age group.

“We’re certainly very proud to be a part of this, but this is part of what we do because this is really our mission, to do studies exactly like this,” Klein said.

Pfizer on Friday submitted an application to the FDA for permission to start administering its COVID-19 vaccine to certain groups, even as its studies are ongoing. Results from the adult trials show it is 95% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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