AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — 10-year-old Ayla Goldhirsch is playing a part in history. The Amherst middle schooler is one of about 50 children taking part in a Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine study at Rochester Clinical Research.
"Ayla's mother found out about this - she's a nurse, so she checked into it. Ayla who is very interested in COVID, and especially avoiding it, wanted to do the study. So that is how we got into it. With the hope that she might receive the vaccine sooner," explained Ayla's mom Susan Frawley.
Ayla says she's been very concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, and was excited for the opportunity to possibly get vaccinated.
"I just really wanted the vaccine," she explained. "To make sure I don't get sick. Because that can be a pretty big problem."
In total, about 4,500 children are taking part in this phase of the study. It's designed to collect information about the safety of the vaccine, examine how well it's tolerated, and determine the amount of antibodies it produces in children.
Ayla got her first injection in June, and her second a few weeks later. It's a blind study, so she doesn't know if she got the vaccine of the placebo. Her mom says she hasn't really had any side effects, but that doesn't mean she got the placebo.
"As they're learning for children - their responses are different than adults," Frawley explained. "It's entirely possible that after the two administrations you would feel nothing. And her temperature remained in the basil stage they were checking with - so it's very possible she got the vaccine, it's very possible she did not."
The family will find out this fall if Ayla got the actual vaccine or a placebo. If she learns she was given the placebo, she can then choose if she wants to get vaccinated.
Her mom says all along, her daughter has been the one choosing if she'd like to continue being part of the trial. She says that choice, and having an open conversation about COVID-19 was important to their family.
"It was never a force," said Frawley. "It was - is this something you want to be a part of, is this something you want to do? And any time if she didn't she could pull back from it. But because of the ramifications it has for more children, and because we really want to have that vaccine available for the under 12 group, especially now because they're becoming one of the hardest hit areas because of what's going on with the variant, it gives her kind of an important place in history that she played a part. "
Ayla did get small stipends for taking part in the trial. In total her mom thinks Ayla made about $600. Ayla says she was happy to make a little money, but that she was more interested in getting vaccinated as soon as possible because she's a cautious person who wants to help keep people safe.
If you're interested in learning more about participating in vaccine trials at Rochester Clinical Research, you can check out their website here.