Teens volunteer to test COVID vaccine before distribution


Christian Emmer via Tumblr

Some parents gave their teens permission to test the COVID-19 vaccine. The two approved vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) were developed only for those 16 and older.

John McQuaid '22, Opinion Editor

     Throughout 2020, the international scientific community has been working towards a vaccine for COVID-19, and now that January has rolled around, one is just on the horizon for us in the USA.

     Here in the United States, there is not a vaccine currently approved for use, but other countries have approved some vaccines for early or limited use. We are still putting vaccines like Pfizer’s or Moderna’s through testing, including asking teenagers 16 and older to volunteer for testing.

     Julia Balistreri, one of Riordan’s chemistry  teachers, has been following Pfizer’s vaccine closely. When asked about the testing on teenagers, she said, 


The idea of testing on young people and teenagers is outrageous to me, ’cause that’s usually just straight up not allowed… As a person, it makes me really wary, as a scientist I get it.”

— Julia Balistreri, Chemistry Teacher

     She made clear that understanding the way the vaccine affects a younger person’s body is very important, despite the fact that testing on teenagers seems “horrifying.” 

     Nevertheless, Alexander Douglass ’21 was actually somewhat onboard with the idea, saying, “I just might because I don’t know how many people would volunteer. It is a risk, [it’s] gonna be, no matter what, but I think I would, personally.”

     Both Douglass and Balistreri were highly impressed by how quickly the vaccine has been put into the final stages of production, echoing that they were told to expect development to take much longer than it did. 

     Unfortunately, even with the UK and Canada approving vaccines like Pfizer’s for early use, the US is moving slowly. Balistreri made a point of mentioning that the rollout will be difficult here in the states. We are getting very small batches of vaccines that are going to have to be sent to those at greatest risk. 

     This means that we cannot expect the vaccine to be available to most members of the Riordan community any time soon. Those under 16 will not be allowed to get the vaccine anyway, considering it is untested in that age group. For now, health officials and medical professionals caution that if we want to get this pandemic over with, the vaccine is not our silver bullet, masks and social distancing are.