Raleigh triplets participate in Duke's Pfizer COVID vaccine clinical trial for young kids

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Among the thousands of children enrolled in Duke's Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial for children 5 to 11 years old, three of them are 8-year-old siblings from Raleigh.

The Rouse triplets, Landon, Ava, and Layla, got their first and second shots in September.

They don't know who received the vaccine and who got a placebo, but about 66-percent, or 3,000 of the 4,500 children enrolled in the study got the real thing.



"I was excited," said their mom, Latoshia Rouse. "I was seeking it out. I wasn't afraid. I also talked to pediatricians about it and knew the work that they had done and put into it and felt like it was absolutely the right thing."

Rouse, her husband, and their 12-year-old son are already vaccinated against COVID-19.

The family has been doing everything they can to prevent infection during the pandemic.

The triplets, born prematurely, spent more than four months in the NICU and Rouse said they hope to never return to a hospital over something that can be prevented.

"We know what it is to have a kid on a ventilator," she said. "We know what that is and that is not fun to have a family split up and see your child working that hard to breathe."

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Dr. Emmanuel Walter, chief medical officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, is the principal investigator for Duke's Pfizer clinical trial.

"We wanted to make sure we afforded children the same level of protection as adults with the fewest side effects," he said.

During the earliest phase of the trial which began in March, Walter said his team decided the lowest dose of the vaccine, 10 micrograms, provided an adequate level of immune response, or protection from the virus, and with fewer side effects.

During the trial, which coincided with the surge of COVID-19'S Delta variant, Walter said the vaccine proved to be 90-percent effective in young kids, with no cases of the rare complication of myocarditis.

"I'm absolutely confident that this was the right call," said Walter of an FDA advisory panel's vote Tuesday that greenlighted the vaccine for authorization. "My advice to parents is this is the best way to protect your child from serious illness and potentially death from COVID- is to get them vaccinated. It's the best tool we have."

For the Rouse triplets, they feel they are a part of history.

"Because we did the research study and it showed that it was safe for other kids to get vaccinated," said Ava.

"These kids-it's been a long, long road, so letting these kids get out and start experiencing life and get back to their normal activities-and have fun -- it's time," said Latoshia Rouse.
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