SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- As two promising COVID-19 vaccines await FDA approval, Massachusetts-based Moderna is looking for 3,000 children to help them test out their vaccine candidate.

"I think the more people who can volunteer, the better. The more people in that trial say how effective the vaccine is in that age group," said Dr. John O’Reilly, the chief of pediatrics at Baystate Health.

Dr. O’Reilly told Western Mass News that Moderna asking children between the ages of 12 and 17 to participate in their vaccine trial is smart, and added that their immune systems are close to those of adults. But the real worry with children this age is with their mental health.

“Right now, our middle schoolers and high schoolers are suffering, not physically suffering, and they won’t be sick from COVID-19, but they're suffering the effects of social isolation and the impact from no school," he explained.

Dr. O'Reilly said clearing children to get the vaccine will not only protect them from the virus but others they come into contact with as well.

”There is a long-term benefit of protecting your child from moderate to severe disease and protecting everyone else your child is in contact with," he noted.

A lot of parents have been sharing their concerns and opinions on not wanting their child to be used in the early stages of testing and are worried about the side effects of what this vaccine could do.

"Side effects were going to anticipate that an adolescent that gets the vaccine, they will have some tenderness on their arm, may some fatigue and maybe a fever," he explained. "But that does not mean they are getting COVID-19. It means their immune system is mounting the proper immune response to the presence of the abnormal COVID-19 proteins."

But making that decision is not always an easy one or the right one, but giving your child the chance to become immune so they can get back to the classroom is what experts like Dr. O'Reilly are hoping for.

"If you are a parent of a child in middle school or high school, your child is suffering from social isolation, and I know every parent wants to do the best thing for their child. I know there are a lot of parents out there who don't know about the vaccine, and I think you want to look at your child and say, 'I'm going to balance a small risk with a greater risk,' of your child that will negatively impact them for the rest of their life," he said.

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