Parent of 6 Year Old in COVID-19 Vaccine Studies Shares Experience: NPR

Parent of 6 Year Old in COVID-19 Vaccine Studies Shares Experience: NPR

Host Michel Martin speaks to parent Jonathan Kealing, whose young son participated in Moderna vaccine trials this summer.


Now for one of the other big stories of the week. The COVID infant vaccine program was launched after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all children ages 5-11 receive Pfizer’s low-dose COVID-19 vaccine. That is approximately 28 million children who are now eligible for the shots.

Jonathan Kealing is a father of two and lives with his family in Minneapolis. He works as the Chief Network Officer for the Institute for Nonprofit News. But we called him today because his oldest child, 6-year-old William, was one of the first children under the age of 12 to get the vaccine this summer. William participated in clinical trials for the Moderna vaccine. And Jonathan Keeling is with us now to tell us about his experience.

Welcome. Thank you for coming.

JONATHAN KEALING: Hello Michel. Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: As far as I know, your son got his first injection in August. How was it?

KEALING: You know, it was about a two-hour appointment. They did a physical exam, checked his vital signs, took some blood, gave him a COVID test, and then gave him his first vaccine. You know my son said the worst was actually the COVID test. And…

MARTIN: Tell me about it.

KEALING: Yeah, I think we all know how it is these days. You know, and then they checked in daily for a week and then weekly for another four weeks until it was time for his second dose. And the process started all over again.

MARTIN: So you can imagine that all parents were simply inundated with different – well, No. 1 with lots of facts, but also lots of feelings. So I have two questions for you. One is, did you feel like people felt like they could weigh themselves with you or even judge you for it? And I was also wondering how you weighed the risks and benefits when everyone says they’re doing research, it doesn’t matter …

KEALING: (laughter).

MARTIN: … you know, whatever that research is.

KEALING: Yeah. You know, um – some great questions about it. And I think maybe I’ll take your second first, all just saying, you know, we trusted our special pediatrician and the other pediatricians we know to help us make the best decision. Do you know about the assessment or something, we didn’t keep it a secret. But I didn’t go out and shout it because, you know, # 1, yes, there – I saw the reactions. And there are many people who have strong feelings about this.

But in the end I felt – you mentioned that I work at the Institute for Nonprofit News. And trusted sources of information are such a big part of my daily work. I felt like this was an example of being able to tell other parents firsthand what we went through. And yes, there were some side effects, but they were very minor and very short lived, and exactly the kind of side effects that adults who were vaccinated reported – you know, a sore arm, you know, maybe a fever or chills for a few hours a few hours. But, you know, part of a study is you can get a placebo.

And when William got these side effects, yes, he felt a little uncomfortable. But he was also super excited because he knew his immune system was reacting to it. And it meant he would be protected. And he helped other children to be protected in the future.

MARTIN: It’s kind of wild. He can go and say I was part of the story.

KEALING: Yeah. And I think that …


KEALING: … was definitely something he liked a bit. You know, he was out on a hike with some friends this morning. And he pumped up the kids and checked who’s got your vaccination appointments and told everyone about his experience because he’s excited, you know? He would like to be able to do more indoor game appointments. And so he is very happy that his friends are also vaccinated.

MARTIN: We spoke to Jonathan Kealing in Minneapolis. He is a father of two. His 6-year-old son William participated in clinical trials for the Moderna COVID vaccine this summer. Jonathan Kealing, thank you very much for speaking with us and sharing your experience.

KEALING: Thank you, Michel. It was great.

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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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