Welcome to my Covid 19 Vaccine Diary.
I called the morning after I saw the appeal as a breaking news story on my smart phone. “500 Volunteers Needed for Covid Vaccine Phase 3 Trials in Jacksonville“.
The place opened at 8:30. When I finally got somebody at 8:40 they told me they were filled up. “But enter your information on the website, anyway. We sometimes get candidates who fall out of the sample.”
I shouldn’t feel embarrassed about making my living as a writer these days. In fact, I created a picture book, written in the tetrameter of Dr. Seuss, that teaches kids how to wash their hands and blow their noses using Centers for Disease Control protocols. It was getting unexpected traction. But since leaving Michigan State, I felt like I had lost my opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Many dutiful servants paid the price for the mistakes of others in the wake of the Nassar mess. I was one of them.
Without portfolio, I couldn’t escape the sense that my ability to be a world changer was over.
Everyone close to me disagreed. And even as I was writing my fiction, I commissioned classroom lesson plans to make the words accessible to students, tools to teach the core curriculum. I was still trying to swing the bat. But it didn’t feel like there was a real center field fence to swing for.
When the Phase 3 vaccine trials were announced, I was determined to offer up my body in the hope that perhaps, I could help save one life in the process.
When the phone call came two days later, I was hopeful. The guy asked a few questions and then told me I would hear from a nurse who would do a deeper dive with my medical history to see if they could use a guy like me.
Cassie Lawler was delightful, thorough and forthcoming. There were two tests: Pfizer and Moderna. There was a 50/50 chance I would get a placebo. Basically saline solution injected into my shoulder so I could be part of the control group. I wanted the vaccine. But I also understood how good science works. I told her I was in, no matter what.
I signed the paperwork and we made an appointment for 9am, August 20th to be part of the Moderna experiments. I was especially excited about the Moderna study. They were working hard to recruit minorities and seniors, the two demographics hit hard and often by the Coronavirus. And since I fell in that last group now, I was a perfect candidate.
The Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research is used to working with sick people. Somebody boring like me with not much of a medical history must have been a different experience.
Cassie loaded me up with information. There were more things to sign. She took my temperature, blood pressure and drew three vials of blood. Dr. Jeff came in and stuck the requisite Q-Tip up my right nostril to test for Covid.
I downloaded a smart-phone application that would ping me periodically to input data about how I was feeling. It was the usual stuff, temp, BP and symptoms. The interface was well designed and the test input exercise they gave me went off without a hitch.
Then Robert came in to take me to the room where they gave you the shot.
I offered him a hundred bucks to give me the real vaccine and not the placebo. It was a joke of course. He told me he mixed the concoctions and knew which I would be getting. I had to look away so I couldn’t see the syringe. I guess they want you to believe you got the real deal even if you didn’t.
He watched me for a couple of minutes afterward to make sure I didn’t have a reaction and then sent me to a post-shot waiting area, where Allison made sure I didn’t keel over. After about 20 minutes she took my temp and blood pressure – no change. Dr. Jeff came in and inspected my shoulder. Asked how I felt. And then I was released.
I came home, had lunch and dug into my usual afternoon in the wonderful world of publishing.
At 2pm, I got my first alert to update my data. No changes. I was a little tired, but I always am at this hour. I stay up too late these days and around 3 the sand man starts beating me into submission for a pre-supper nap.
All good so far. A great experience.
Excited to see what happens next!