Morristown youth in vaccine trial

Emma Stibler had a conversation with her mother last summer.

She asked her mother, Betsy Stibler, if any kids were getting vaccinated. Betsy told her daughter she didn’t think so.

Emma had a simple question.

Why not?

“We’ve got to get a lot of people vaccinated,” said Emma Stibler, 13. “Not just adults, but kids.”

So, over the course of several months, momma heard about it all the time. Emma said she wanted to get vaccinated in order to help other kids and see how the COVID-19 vaccination affects children.

“She nagged me for the course of a couple of months,” Betsy said.

The time came and Betsy finally went online and did some research. She found there would be vaccination trials conducted for children by Pfizer and there was a clinic doing the research outside Louisville, Kentucky. So, Betsy signed Emma up.

Emma is rare in the world. She is one of the first children to get vaccinated as part of a two-year study by Pfizer to see the affects of the vaccination on children. The vaccine has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for emergency use and is being administered in Tennessee to those 65 and older and also teachers, healthcare providers and first responders.

For children, though, there will be a long wait. Because they are considered the less likely to be harmed by COVID-19, children are last on the list to get vaccinated under the Tennessee Department of Health’s plan.

But, it didn’t stop Emma.

She went in and got her first dose of Pfizer, which requires two doses, on Jan. 6. She went back and got her second shot on Jan. 28.

She was told she could have gotten a placebo instead of the real vaccination. But, she said she thinks it was the real deal.

The next day, she started developing symptoms. She had a slight fever, a headache and soreness. She was tired.

“She woke up the next morning and didn’t go to school,” Betsy said.

Later that day, she started feeling better, she said.

“It didn’t last long,” Emma said.

She logged in all of her symptoms and everything about how she felt daily for a few weeks. The rest of the trial, if it lasts two years, will require her to go outside Louisville to the clinic to have tests run on her.

It’s worth it for Emma. Herd immunity must be reached for all demographics, even children.

“The safety and efficacy trials are not complete,” Betsy said. “They still have kids.”

Emma hopes that she can be one kid to make a difference.