CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WGHP/WOOD) — Moderna is hoping its COVID-19 vaccine can help children.

On Tuesday, Moderna, the company behind one of the FDA-approved, two-dose COVID-19 vaccines, announced that participants have received their first dose in a new trial focused on children under the age of 12.

Moderna is calling this Phase 2/3 study the “KidCOVE” study of mRNA-1273, the company’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

“We are pleased to begin this Phase 2/3 study of mRNA-1273 in healthy children in the U.S. and Canada and we thank NIAID and BARDA for their collaboration,” said Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna. “It is humbling to know that 17.8 million adults in the U.S. have received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to date. We are encouraged by the primary analysis of the Phase 3 COVE study of mRNA-1273 in adults ages 18 and above and this pediatric study will help us assess the potential safety and immunogenicity of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate in this important younger age population.”

The study will look at the safety, tolerability, effectiveness and possible reactions of two doses of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart.

Moderna plans to enroll about 6,750 children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years across the U.S. and Canada.

In the first part of this study, Moderna is working with participants between the ages of 2 years to less than 12 years. Each child may receive one of two dose levels. Each participant ages 6 months to less than 2 years may receive one of three dose levels, include the two tested with older ages as well as one that is a lower dosage.

Moderna will continue following participants through 12 months after the second vaccination.

The company expects to be able to use the results of this study to determine if the vaccine is also effective for people ages 18 to 25.

Meanwhile in Grand Rapids, the Van Andel Institute recently launched something they call VacciNation. It’s a free program for teachers to bring vaccine information to their third through eighth grade students.

The program covers the history of vaccines, their development and how they work.

“The old saying is knowledge is power. The more we can give them knowledge, it makes them powerful and not just give them knowledge but help them experience that. Help them discover how vaccines work. Give them the chance to actually think and act like a vaccine scientist. I think that really just empowers them,” said Terra Tarango, chief education officer at the Van Andel Institute.

Tarango says teachers are great at taking what’s happening in the world and morphing it into the classroom.

“Years from now if we look back and look forward to see how many of these kids go into fields of immunology, or how many of them pursue science fields or how many of them are in interested in disease prevention just because they’ve lived through this — I have to think that’s got to make an influence on a great number of people,” Tarango said.

The program is available virtually or in person. More information can be found online.

— News 8’s Emily Linnert contributed to this report.