MY ANGLE: My experience being a part of Pfizer’s COVID-19 study

Yeah, I’m immune to COVID-19.

Okay, I don’t know if that’s true, but I like to think it is.

A couple of months ago, I got an invitation to participate in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine study. I accepted without hesitation, even though I wasn’t totally sure what was going to happen. I was excited about the possibility that I could have the vaccine, as well as the fact that I would be doing my part in helping to find the cure.

I was excited leading up to it, but I started to get nervous the day of the first appointment, having realized that I had no idea what was about to happen.

On a Thursday afternoon in November, I found myself sitting in the hallway outside of the vaccine study at Kaiser Permanente in Arden. After about 10 minutes, a nurse came out and brought my mom and me inside. In the room, I met the doctors and nurses that would be helping me.

The first appointment lasted for about two hours. We spent about 30 minutes talking about the entire study. I would go to five in-person appointments and check-in with the study using an app on my phone at least once a week — for the next two years.

After we finished talking about the study and its intentions/goals, we began the actual appointment. I had my blood drawn; they performed a nasal swab  — probably what I was most nervous about — and then I received the injection.

The interesting thing about the study is that there are two different injections I could have received, but I don’t know which one I would get. The first being the vaccine that Pfizer is working on, and the second being saline, just a placebo. I was very worried that I would receive the saline and not the vaccine, but I believe that I received Pfizer’s vaccine.

That night, I started to get full-body chills, and my body started to ache. This may sound like a bad thing, but I think this was a good sign. My mom and I have a friend in Los Angeles who is a doctor and also participated in the vaccine study. After her injection, she also became symptomatic. She was able to later test her antibodies and came to the conclusion that she had received the vaccine. 

Here is what I think: saline would not cause me to be symptomatic. I don’t think so, my mom doesn’t think so and anyone else I have talked to doesn’t think so. Therefore, it would only make sense that I received the vaccine.

I went back for my second appointment about three weeks after the first. I received a second injection. That night, I felt no symptoms, which worried me. However, I woke up the next day feeling terrible, which I felt much better about. I felt symptomatic throughout the rest of the week, which was a big relief to me.

I am super happy and grateful to be a part of this ongoing study. I am surrounded by a lot of high-risk cases, people I really care about, so more than anything I want a vaccine to be found, and, in fact, on Dec. 11, Pfizer received good news when the FDA approved the vaccine for emergency use authorization (EUA) in the United States.

On Dec. 8, I went to get my antibodies test. 48 hours later, I received my results.

I’m immune!

— By Miles Morrow

Originally published in the Dec. 15 edition of the Octagon. Updated Dec. 20.

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