What it looked like to participate in a Covid-19 vaccine trial

Dec 18, 2020 Travel News

What it looked like to participate in a Covid-19 vaccine trial

Yes, the timeline seemed fast to me. I didn’t know if I would be called at all. By the time I signed up, there had already been a huge demand to participate in the Pfizer trial. I knew the study windows were almost full.

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What was it like for you, the researcher, to participate in a randomized trial?

The feeling of being randomized took me by surprise. I must note that the study staff were absolutely wonderful to me. They answered all my questions and treated me with the utmost kindness, dignity and respect. But even so, the randomization was troubling. Although knowing full well what I signed up for, it even felt unfair for a while. As a practicing nurse, I had previously had a number of potential exposures to coronaviruses, although luckily I never actually contracted the virus. It would have meant a lot to me to get the active vaccine and I really, really didn’t want to be in the placebo group.

A month later you got a second injection but it was a very different experience. You had injection site pain, nausea, chills, dizziness and a fever that reached 104.9 degrees the next day. Although you later found out that these side effects are common, do you think this will be a barrier for some people to get the vaccine? And are the side effects you have suffered from to be feared?

I have had many vaccines in my life and have never had a strong reaction like I did with this injection, so in fact I received the active vaccine. Side effects can be a barrier if people are not prepared to deal with them. As healthcare providers, it is essential that we explain the potential side effects that patients might experience so that they come back for the second dose and do not worry that the side effects are dangerous. In almost all cases, the side effects are transient and minor. My experience of multiple side effects is very rare.

The side effects you experienced are also similar to the symptoms associated with Covid-19. How can healthcare providers reassure people that it is safe?

First, I urge all healthcare workers to get vaccinated if and when it is available. It can be very difficult for patients to say, “I have enough confidence in this vaccine to have received it myself.” Second, I urge health care providers to allow sufficient time to have a constructive conversation with patients about their questions and concerns regarding these vaccines. It must be very clear that it is impossible for mRNA vaccines to cause Covid-19 and that these vaccines do not contain coronavirus. Finally, I think health care providers should be sure to explain Why side effects occur. Vaccines work by activating the body’s immune system, and it is this activation that both teaches the body to protect itself from the virus and causes side effects like fever, chills, muscle pain, etc. Health care providers should explain that side effects are, in some way, a positive sign that the vaccine is working.