On Monday, big vaccine news broke: Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, announced preliminary results showing that their vaccine appears to be more than 90% effective. Greg and Dixie Thomas, who are based in Wichita, Kansas, participated in the Phase 3 vaccine trial. They weigh in on their experience below.
Wake-Up Call: Tell us how you got involved in the vaccine trial? When did you receive the vaccine (or the placebo)?
Dixie Thomas: We responded to a Heartland Research ad in the Wichita Eagle. After meeting the study qualifications, we received two vaccines — one in July and another in August. Along with the vaccines, blood work and other tests were done. We knew when we started that half the participants would receive the vaccine and half would receive the placebo. As it is a double-blind study, we won’t know if we received the vaccine or the placebo until the trial is over.
Why did you want to participate?
We were both concerned about the seriousness of the pandemic and wanted to do our part to help find a vaccine. We had never participated in a clinical trial and were interested in the process. This was an opportunity to receive the latest treatment and help with research that could bring a vaccine one step closer to reaching others worldwide…. and that was exciting. We received the ‘OK’ from our physician, and felt the benefits far outweighed the risk, as this is a Phase 3 trial, and Pfizer is a reputable company.
How is it going? Have you had any side effects?
It’s going just fine. Neither one of us have had side effects. Because I had a slight reaction (soreness at the injection site), I’m hoping I received the vaccine. Greg had no reaction and thinks he received the saline solution placebo. Of course, we’re making it a competition!! We wear our masks, social distance and take all the precautions. Our behavior hasn’t changed since before the study.
Based on your experience, what would you like people to know about clinical trials?
Clinical trials are at the heart of all medical advances and these trials depend on people’s participation. Before participating, do your research, and ask lots of questions to make sure it’s something you’re comfortable doing. The professionals who conducted our study were thorough in their explanation, knowledgeable and respectful, and we have felt totally at ease with this process. We found the staff was very appreciative of our participation. It’s been a positive experience and we would consider enrolling in another study.