For science, for the world – participating in the COVID-19 vaccine trial

Victoria Hernandez

October 13, 2020

It’s one thing to participate in a scientific study. But to participate in a vaccine trial for a virus in the middle of a pandemic around said virus? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity! I’ll be writing a series on my experience participating in a SARS-CoV-2 trial.

Since vaccines are one of CareSet’s specialty areas, I thought it was fitting to jump on the chance to see first-hand what the process of FDA approval is like from a patient’s perspective. So I decided to dedicate the next two years of my life to science.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Seeking Participants

When I first read that COVID-19 vaccine trials were set to come to Houston, I eagerly signed up to hopefully be a part of the trial. Within a few days, I received a phone call from a third-party who was collecting participants. I answered the same questions I submitted online, along with a few more. Toward the end of the call, I was promised a follow-up within a week.

A month later, someone from the organization reached out to me. We spoke on the phone and I answered more questions. As it turned out, one of the vaccine trials was filled up. But the other was still seeking more participants, and would I be interested? Absolutely!

Several days later, another call, more questions, and finally an appointment was booked.

COVID-19 Vaccine Trial – First Visit

A week later I drove 30 minutes to a clinic. Here is what happened next:

  • Interaction with person 1 – A front office person checked me in. It was a standard physician office visit interaction, plus a temperature check.
  • Interaction with person 2 – I followed another person into a room.
  • Interaction with person 3 – A person came into the room and asked the list of questions I’d previously answered. They also took a urine sample. Pregnancy meant disqualification from the study.
  • Interaction with person 4 – Another person came in, gave me a high-level summary of the study, and gave me a consent form, and HIPAA authorization form to read and sign. After some time for me to read, they came back and took the paperwork.
  • Interaction with person 5 – A nurse practitioner came to check my pulse and to listen to my heart/lungs.
  • Interaction with person 6 – A nurse came in and took a blood sample. I was surprised at how many vials she filled, but after a quick Google search, I learned it was pretty standard.
  • Interaction with persons 7 & 8 – A person came in to give me the injection, along with someone who had a computer, taking notes of everything. Then I was told to stay there for the next 30 minutes to make sure I didn’t have an adverse reaction, and to be sure I felt okay.

    “Since vaccines are one of CareSet’s
    specialty areas, I thought it was fitting
    to jump on the chance to see first-hand
    what the process of FDA approval
    is like from a patient’s perspective.”
  • Interaction with person 9 – Someone else then came in and gave me the timeline of the trial, and was there to answer any questions I might have had. This person also gave me the gift card I would be compensated with and made sure I downloaded and understood the app to record my symptoms over the next several months.

They all wore masks, some also had a faceguard. The ones who actually poked and prodded me wore gloves.

Timeline for COVID-19 vaccine study

Maybe I received the vaccine, or maybe I received the placebo. It’s too early to tell right now. But I look forward to being a part of something so monumental, as Latines have hardly been considered during trials in the past. The FDA has actually encouraged “the enrollment of populations most affected by COVID-19, specifically racial and ethnic minorities.” In the meantime, if you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.

You can read my update here.

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