CLEVELAND — The Gilberts are an active family.
“All five of us were home together for the last year,” said Michele Gilbert.
Four Square became a new way to pass the time during the pandemic.
“We’ve played a lot of other games as well," said the mother.
This week @pfizer rolled out phase 2/3 of the COVID-19 vaccine trial for kids age 5-11. Some participants are here in our state and every member of this family in NEO has been involved in the vaccine trials - which now includes their 10-year-old. Meet them on @SpectrumNews1OH pic.twitter.com/aaMbG1CVbU— Micaela Marshall (@MMarshallTV) June 10, 2021
Jonah, 18, loves basketball. Isaiah, 14, is into science and Hope, 10, enjoys riding her bike and drawing with chalk.
Michele and Joe are proud parents. All five have been involved in Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials at Senders Pediatrics in northeast Ohio.
“I mean, we have friends and family who have thought we were crazy," said Michele.
“When I said I was doing the vaccination trial to one of my friends they’re like, 'Oh are you gonna grow a third leg?'” said Jonah.
The Gliberts said in the early months of the vaccine rollout, family dinners were full of lively debate and discussion in an effort to better understand the science behind it.
“Admittedly, a lot of people still have hesitancy, but we think that it was the best course for our family and realistically for the globe," said Joe.
Isaiah recently took a biology class and he used his knowledge to help educate his family.
“Trying to obviously calm down suspicions and questions and whatever people had about the vaccine," he said.
Hope watched her parents and brothers get the shots.
“I thought they were very lucky. I did not think that I was going to be in the trial or any trial," she said.
But now children ages 5 to 11 are eligible for a study.
Hope just got her first dose.
“I am having some side effects. I am kind of stuffy, but also I have a sore throat," said Hope.
She’s one of 25 local kids involved in the latest Pfizer trial at Senders Pediatrics. Pfizer said there are more than 90 sites internationally participating, four of which are in Ohio.
“As soon as everybody gets vaccinated is like as soon as it can go back to normal. So, that’s kind of why I want to get vaccinated," said Hope.
COVID-19 has taken away different things from each of the siblings since they’re at varying ages, but all missed out, whether it be sport seasons, in-person school, homecomings, proms or graduations.
"It was a big transition for me," said Isaiah, who is a rising sophomore in high school.
“Just being a kid, you’re kind of uneasy in those situations," said Jonah, who plans to attend The Ohio State University in the fall. “It was very mentally draining.”
Pfizer said it is committed to diversity and representation in these trials to better serve the communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, but gaining the trust of African Americans proved to be a challenge.
The Gilberts said as an African American family, the decision to vaccinate and participate in clinical trials was not taken lightly.
“This was something that we really thought about deeply and wanted to make sure that we came up with the best decision for our family," said Joe.
This family sees the shots as a ticket back to life before the masks, and they’re happy to be a part of history in our world’s COVID-19 comeback story.
“Ultimately, we felt it was what we needed to do in order to get back to normal," said Michele.
Dr. Shelly Senders said every patient has a physical examination, has their blood drawn and is tested for COVID-19 before getting the shot. There is a placebo group as well, and the number of local people interested in this trial was so great, many were turned away.
“Over 525 people who wanted to do this trial and we were only able to choose 25. And we actually didn’t — this was not our choice. Pfizer gave us some criteria," said Senders.
Children ages 5 to 11 that are participating in the current trial will come back in three weeks for their second shot of the Pfizer vaccine, but the dosage is lower.
“The dose is 30 micrograms for everyone who is 12 and above and it’s 10 micrograms for, or one-third, for this younger age group," said Senders. "They landed on the 10 microgram dose which seemed to be the best combination of safety and immunity."
Pfizer said a clinical trial involving children as young as six months old should begin in the next few weeks, but Senders isn’t sure just yet if that study will happen there. However, Senders Pediatrics has been a site for the adult and every child age group trial so far.
"Whether you choose to vaccinate your child is an individual choice, but the world needs this vaccine," said Senders.
If safety and efficacy is proven in the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, Pfizer hopes to submit for FDA Emergency Use Authorization as soon as September.