Participating in the COVID-19 vaccine trial part 3

Victoria Hernandez

November 23, 2020

I thought it was pertinent I take the chance and sign up for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trial. This summer I began my journey. The trial I’m in contains two separate injections several weeks apart. It’s been a month since my second injection. The question remains, am I safe from COVID-19?

Spontaneous, or reckless? Jumping into a vaccine trial

One of the biggest questions I’ve asked myself as I began to partake in this process, is it worth it? The whole concept of donating my body to science, not knowing how I’ll react to the vaccine. We are beginning to learn of possible side effects from the vaccines. I was incredibly quick to say yes to participating without considering the consequences. Late this summer, one of the trials was put on pause due to a suspected adverse reaction to the vaccine.

However, I still let them inject me like a routine vaccination. It wasn’t until after I began telling others of my adventure that I began to question my decision. A lot of people had the same response, “I could never do what you’re doing!” I asked myself, “What am I doing?” It was too late. I was in too deep. The paperwork I signed said I could leave the trial at any point. Had these conversations occurred earlier, I might have been more hesitant before continuing. By the second injection, there wasn’t much I could do if anything were to happen to me. It’s not like they could reverse the injection.

I carried on with the trial.

Follow-up appointment post-injection

One month after my second injection it was time for a follow-up appointment. It was a much shorter appointment than my two previous visits:

  • Interaction with person 1: Check-in and temperature check, I was also asked several questions about symptoms. I had none.
  • Interaction with person 2: I was escorted to a room and waited for my next instructions.
  • Interaction with person 3: Someone comes in and informs me the trial is now open to children and older adults, so I will have to sign the new consent form. Additionally, the blood samples would be smaller.
  • Interaction with person 4: I’m given a cup for a urine sample. Then I’m informed my blood will be drawn soon.
  • Interaction with person 5: My blood is taken and I’m bandaged up. Not long after that, I was free to leave.

I am still completing my weekly e-diary, acknowledging that I have no symptoms as of yet. And I should be receiving a call down the line to schedule my next follow-up appointment. With it being a double-blind study, the presumption is that we don’t know if I received the vaccine or placebo. I’m convinced I got the placebo because I never had symptoms. This feels monotonous now, but I understand that it’s crucial for trials to continue.

Vaccine Updates

As of last week, both Pfizer and Moderna have been transparent with their vaccines’ effectiveness. At more than 90%, the two vaccines show great promise for the future. Additionally, Oxford, in conjunction with AstraZeneca has been confident with their vaccine. Then, Friday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced they are submitting a request for emergency use of their vaccine to the FDA. As promising as it all sounds, it’s imperative to remember that it will take some time to distribute globally. Also, unlike the flu shot, it’s two injections several weeks apart. So, please continue to wear a mask.

You can read my vaccine trial update here.

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