LOS ANGELES — For over a year now, teenagers and kids across the country have been isolating at home — missing major events that mark their adolescences like birthdays, prom, driver permits, and sporting events. 

What You Need To Know

  • Teens all over the country are participating in vaccine trials, 3,000 are in the Moderna trial

  • Over three million children have tested positive for COVID-19 so far

  • The results from the trial will hopefully open the door to allow people ages 12-17 to be able to get the vaccine

  • Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people over 18, Pfizer's vaccine is authorized for people over 16

It has not all been a loss.

When Teddy Rierson, 16, from Los Angeles heard that Moderna was looking for people ages 12 to 17 to join their teen vaccine trial, he decided to sign up. Rierson said it was an opportunity to help more people get the vaccine and get back to normal.

"It feels bigger than myself. I am helping people get the vaccine, their families, everyone. It feels great," he said.

Rierson’s mom, Hadley Davis Rierson, was enthusiastic about her son's participation in the trial.

"Teenagers’ go to is to say no, but I think my work is done [as a mother] if my kids are willing to give back and do something for the greater good," she said.

Not only is it for the greater good, but Rierson is also paid for participating in the trial. He turned 16 years old in lockdown, and prior to that, he was not able to legally work so the clinical trial was his first paying job.

It is not exactly a typical high school weekend gig, but it pays pretty well. In total, Rierson will make $1,600.

"I've already spent some of the money on clothes," Rierson said. "I grew out of a lot of my clothes during lockdown."

In fact, Rierson has grown three inches in the past year. It is another example of how the pandemic has impacted his life — growing up, literally, during lockdown.

According to pediatrician Dr. Scott Cohen, teenager and adolescent bodies and hormones change at such a rapid rate that it was important to do vaccine trials by age groups.

"It's possible the reaction is different [with younger people] because dosing is usually based on age or weight. Sometimes it's a lower dose that we give a child for a vaccine," Dr. Cohen said.

So far, over three million children have tested positive for COVID-19, but very few of those cases have resulted in serious health issues. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children make up 1.3% to 3.0% of all hospitalizations reported in the U.S.

Dr. Cohen emphasized that vaccinating kids and teens, will ultimately help everyone.

"By vaccinating and working on trials on older children, not only are we protecting them, but we are protecting the higher risk people around them," he said.

Rierson has received his two shots, but does not know if he received the placebo or the actual vaccine. He said he is just happy to help, and participating in the trial makes Rierson part of a historic event.

"When I'm a grandfather I'll be able to tell my grandkids that I helped them out with the vaccine," Rierson said.