Atlanta 4-year-old now fully vaccinated after joining Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial

Astrid Pearson is 4-years old, and fully vaccinated.

It has been almost a year since the Atlanta preschooler got her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5.

She was only 3 at the time, part of clinical trial at Emory University.

Her mother Dre Pearson learned about the pediatric vaccine study through a Facebook group for mothers.

She saw the trial as a way to get Astrid early access to the vaccine, while helping researchers get answers. 

"We wanted to contribute and help everyone, help everyone get out of this pandemic," Dre Pearson says.  "It's been such a difficult couple of years for so many people. And, it was really important for us to contribute where we could."

Astrid was one of just over 1,400 children under 5 in the Pfizer trial.

She received 3 shots, the first two back in July 2021, given 3 weeks apart, and then another 6 months later in January 2022.

After the second shot, her mother says, Astrid developed hives, a sign of a mild allergic reaction, but had no other issues.

An FDA review of the Pfizer study data found the three-dose under 5 vaccine, which is a tenth of the dose of the adult vaccine, was 80% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19.

Dre Pearson says getting Astrid vaccinated was a relief.

"Once we found out she got the vaccine rather than the placebo, we felt comfortable traveling to the West Coast to go see family," she says.  "It just felt like a burden had been lifted. We continued to be careful because all of the kids her age still have yet to be vaccinated; we don't want to put anybody else at risk.  But, for our family, it was just a giant weight off our shoulders, knowing that we all had some level of protection."

If the FDA and CDC clear the way for the Pfizer and Moderna shots, parents will be able to choose between the Moderna 2-dose shot for kids 6 and under and the Pfizer 3-dose shot for kids 5 and under.

Mother and daughter, both wearing face masks, pose for a selfie.

Three-year-old Astrid Pearson poses with her mother Dre Pearson in Atlanta. (Dre Pearson)

Still, surveys show many parents of younger children are on the fence about vaccinating them.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in April found only 18% of parents of kids under 5 say they are eager to get their child vaccinated right away, once the vaccine is authorized.

The rest say they will either wait and see how others do with the vaccine, will not get their child vaccinated, or will get their child vaccinated only if the shots are required.

Dre Pearson says many of her parent friends are eager to get their children vaccinated.

She says she is proud of Astrid's participation in the Pfizer study.

"We talk a lot about how she's helping people, and it's a really big deal, because she can look back on this as an adult and know that she contributed to ending the pandemic," Dre Pearson says.