TEMPLE, Texas (FOX 44) – As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, illness or disease caused by the SARS-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection continues to spread.

As part of an effort to better understand COVID-19 infection prevention and transmission in children, Baylor Scott & White Health is participating in a research initiative called the PROTECT (Pediatric Research Observing Trends and Exposures in COVID-19 Timelines) study.

Under the PROTECT study, Manjusha Gaglani, MD, director of the Center for Research in Vaccines and Infections, and the research team at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center Temple, is studying the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in children. The findings will help determine how children can safely interact with family and friends and participate in school or other extracurricular activities without restriction.

The study is voluntary, and is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Abt Associates. The Baylor Scott & White research team, together with other U.S. research programs, is enrolling up to 2,000 participants in the study until fall 2022.

Children between the ages of six months and 17 years who are in the Bell County area for the current and 2022-2023 school year could be eligible to join the study. Participants can be vaccinated or unvaccinated.

Families with children who qualify and decide to join will be asked to take online surveys asking about their health and medical history, vaccinations, and their knowledge of and thoughts about COVID-19. PROTECT requires parents or guardians to have access to a cell phone with text capabilities and internet access. Parents and guardians should also be comfortable with collecting drop-off or mail-in nasal swabs once a week. Participants have the option to measure immune response to vaccines and COVID-19 through a blood draw.

PROTECT will last up to one year, and participants can be compensated for their time and completion of different segments of the study. The study will not provide vaccines to participants.

While parents and guardians are not eligible for the PROTECT study, they may be eligible for the Research on the Epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in Essential Response Personnel (RECOVER) study to aid in determining the frequency of symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 infection and the frequency of COVID-19 reinfections among personnel who have prior COVID-19 infection and effectiveness of vaccination – including booster doses.

If you have questions about the PROTECT study or are interested in registering your child, you can email HCP@bswhealth.org or call 254-724-8193.