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'Set an example for other kids and inspire them': Houston-area teen shares Moderna vaccine trial experience

Jack Dyment rolled up his sleeve for science by participating in Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine trial. Houston is one of 20 cities where trials are happening.

HOUSTON — COVID-19 vaccine distribution well underway in Houston, but the FDA has not approved the vaccines for teenagers or children under 17 years old. It's why Moderna is opening its trials up to kids 12 to 17 years old, and Houston is one of 20 cities participating.

"This is our way of doing our part," Leanne Dyment said.

Jack Dyment and his mother Leanne decided to roll up their sleeves for science.

"I did it to set an example for other kids and inspire them," Jack said.

Jack, 13, is participating in Moderna's teen trial at the Cy Fair Clinical Research Center.

"I was a little bit worried and confused about it, but ... they told me I was fine," Jack said.

His mom enrolled in NovoVax's phase 3 trial.

"I see it as incredibly patriotic," Leanne said. "If we get sick, we're stressing an already taxed healthcare system. I don't want to put more of a burden on already overworked healthcare workers."

Both Jack and Leanne don't know if they got the vaccine or placebo. But Houston Fights COVID, the group coordinating the trials, says teen participants have a greater chance of getting the actual vaccine compared to adults.

That means signing your children up for a trial could be the quickest way to get them vaccinated.

"They send you home with an app and a thermometer and you check in daily, and they have support staff in case anything happens," Leanne said.

So far, Jack and his mom have had no side effects. Leanne even signed up her younger child for a waitlist.

"I have another son who is 11 and I have signed him up already when studies open up to next to 2-year-olds and up, they believe that will be in March, so we're hoping he gets selected as well," Leanne said.

To sign up and learn more, just go to HoustonFightsCOVID.com. They are eligible for up to $1,000 for participating and must be in good health.

Researchers hoping to sign up thousands in the Houston area. The faster data is collected, the sooner vaccines will be rolled out to pediatric populations.