True Story - I'm participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial (Part 4: Follow-up)

December 17, 2020
Nurse Cheryl Bath draws blood from Kelly Warren for COVID vaccine clinical trial.
Nurse Cheryl Bath draws blood from Kelly Warren, a volunteer in MUSC's COVID-19 vaccine trial. Photos by Sarah Pack

Kelly Warren is a manager with MUSC’s Enterprise Campaigns and University Communications. Warren volunteered to be a participant in the MUSC/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial. She shares her experiences so that others might also feel comfortable receiving the vaccine. This is part four. Read part one here. Read part two here. Read part three here. Read part five here.

Two weeks ago, I had my first appointment in the COVID-19 vaccine trial. Today, I returned for a follow-up appointment. Since it is a double-blind study, with some participants receiving the vaccine and others receiving a saline placebo, none of the administrators could tell me which I received. Based on my experiences after the injection, though, I’m pretty certain I received the vaccine.

While this has given me a sense of protection, I’m consciously trying not to get cocky and think I’m now super-human. There’s still so much unknown about COVID-19, and while this vaccine is in the final stages, it is still a trial. I’ve committed to continuing to live as if I don’t have antibodies; that I’m at the same level of risk for having or spreading COVID-19. So, no ditching masks and distancing anytime soon, unfortunately.

MUSC program coordinators Kimsen Spencer, left, and Charnele Handy schedule volunteers for the COVID-19 trial. 
MUSC program coordinators Kimsey Spencer, seated left, ,and Charnele Handy schedule volunteers for the COVID-19 vaccine trial.

My appointment today was a short one. I met with one of the study administrators, and we went through a brief questionnaire. We discussed any symptoms I’d experienced and their duration. She confirmed that what I experienced has been a typical response, which was nice to hear.

Then, it was time for a bit of paperwork and scheduling my next appointment. That one will be at the one-month mark and will involve another injection.

The final stop during this visit was with a nurse who did some sort of nasal collection (thankfully not a full swab this time!) and a blood draw. As she did the blood draw, I asked her what the vials would be used for. One will be tested to see if I have antibodies. The other three or four are tested for other things related to possible impacts from the vaccine. She kept her answer intentionally vague, but this reinforced my feeling that I got the real deal.

And in just a few minutes, the appointment was finished, and I was on my way. Now, to wait for the next appointment and to keep an eye on the news as companies release their findings and distributions plans are made!

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