TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Vaccine maker Moderna has chosen USF Health to take part in a clinical trial to test its COVID-19 vaccine for children.

The news comes as thousands of children return to school in Tampa Bay while the delta variant surges. More children are arriving at hospitals sick with the virus, and concerned parents are patiently waiting to get their kids the vaccine.

“I literally jumped for joy when I heard about it. I had been in touch with the people in Jacksonville about their Moderna study,” said Dr. Jennifer Jain from Tampa.

Research physicians at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine are seeking volunteers to participate in the trial, which will evaluate safety and immune responses. Space is limited. Three out of four children participants in part 2 of the trial will receive two intramuscular shots spaced at four weeks apart. The remaining quarter of participants will get two placebo injections.

Dr. Carina Rodriguez, who is a professor at the school and the Chief of its Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, will be the principal investigator.

“This is very much needed for children and will be increasing the possibility to expand immunity in the community,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “So we want to make sure that it’s very representative of each particular ethnicity and race.”

Researchers are looking for volunteers between the ages of 6 months and 11 years old. They must be in good health or have stable chronic conditions, and must not have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks before getting the shot.

Dr. Rodriguez said the dosage amount will be less for toddlers than older children, and participating children will be monitored for 12 months.

“I heard that might not be for the littlest kids, it might be 5 to 11, so that’s why I’m considering enrolling my kids in this study but the second my kids can get the vaccine they are there,” said Dr. Jain.

No word on exactly how many children will participate locally, but Moderna wants to enroll 12,000 in the U.S. and Canada for the second phase of the trial.

Enrollment will open in the coming days. For more information, call or text 813-853-1149 or send an email to usfchildrenscovidvaccine@gmail.com.