A Shot of Hope:: My Decision to Join a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial

I think we all remember the specific moment in time when we realized COVID was more than just a temporary interruption in our lives. Mine was Friday, March 13th, 2020 – also known as my family’s first day of isolation, quarantine, lockdown…whatever you want to call it. I remember standing in our master bathroom in a state of shock and disbelief over what I was hearing on the news and thinking to myself, “This is a nightmare.  We’re going to be years away from a COVID-19 vaccine to stop this monster.”

A Shot of Hope:: My Decision to Join a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical TrialCue Operation Warp Speed {this is not a political post…that’s literally the name of the COVID- 19 vaccine program} and all of the mind-blowing things that the scientific medical community threw at the virus. The financial backing behind the effort was for all intensive purposes, unlimited and the race for a vaccine was *ON*. Bio-tech companies that have historically been rivals partnered on furthering existing decade+ old vaccine research to find the magic formula, medical manufacturing giants like McKesson kicked things into high gear to be sure that once vaccines were ready there would be enough syringes and supplies available to administer them, and shipping rivals FedEx & UPS drew a line straight down the country and said, “Hey, UPS! You take the east. We’ll take the west over here at FedEx!”

You know what money and all of those incredible efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine COULDN’T buy though? Time. Yep. It’s one of the most basic certainties in life and no matter how rich you are or how smart you are, you can’t buy time. But more about that later.

The initial months of the pandemic were literally a blur. Suddenly our kids were home from school with both my husband and I working full time jobs from home – not to mention I work in human resources and anyone in HR will tell you that we couldn’t lift our heads above water for months after this thing began. Given my education and background in public health, I subconsciously knew that COVID- 19 vaccine clinical trials were being conducted globally, but it wasn’t something that really registered with me until early 2021.

The Vaccine Hunger Games

For months, I had been scouring the internet for COVID-19 vaccine appointments for my family members who met the state’s criteria for being vaccinated. The moment I would receive a vaccine appointment “tip”, I would literally run to my study and have two laptops, my iPad and my iPhone all up at once trying to find that golden COVID-19 vaccine ticket. To say it was the Hunger Games is an understatement – IT. WAS. EXHAUSTING! Then I started seeing estimated time frames for when my husband and I were going to be eligible for vaccines and each one seemed too far out to even wrap my head around. Meanwhile, I kept seeing friends, family and other acquaintances around me engaging in activities that did very little to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while my family was practically still in lockdown. {Note: I did have several examples of people around me who traveled with their families and were taking all of the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Even my family drove 2 hours down to the coast and stayed in a vacation rental over New Year’s, getting curbside groceries and engaging in all outdoor activities away from others. Unfortunately I also saw a lot of the opposite.}

The months of January and February were extremely challenging for me mentally as I tried to not only stay current on all of the various information regarding the new variants of the virus, but also keep my anger and disgust toward others at bay. I was snippy on social media, often leaving not-so-passive aggressive comments on various posts I would see and resentful toward anyone who wasn’t doing the exact same things my family and I were doing. I was a giant exposed nerve after dealing with this virus both personally and professionally for nearly an entire year and I felt like a complete and total monster. My anger toward the virus and all the things it had stripped from me and my family had rooted itself so deep inside, I had lost control over my ability to ignore the things I could not control and I was miserable to be around.

I Needed to Do Something

That’s when I mentally snapped and made the somewhat shocking decision as a married mother of 3 children to join a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial.

I needed a way to channel my frustration and anger into something productive and no longer destructive.

I needed to feel like I was doing something to help others during this pandemic.

I needed to feel like I had some sense of control back in my life.

I wanted to show my kids that science is not something to be afraid of and is pretty amazing.

I wanted to support the scientific community and all of their efforts on behalf of us all.

Joining the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial

A Shot of Hope:: My Decision to Join a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical TrialDuring the course of my research on the various variants and vaccines in early 2021, I stumbled across the Houston Fights COVID website. The site is dedicated to helping enlist Houstonians in the numerous COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials that are available throughout the Houston area. I signed up online and was shortly thereafter contacted by a member of the clinical staff at a local research lab. I went through a series of calls with the lab where I answered a plethora of medical history and social behaviors questions and about a week later, I had an appointment for my health screening and 1st injection. As it turns out, it’s a Novavax clinical trial which uses slightly different medical technology than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as well as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Novavax vaccine leverages the same medical technology as the Influenza, Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus vaccines already in use today.

Before my first appointment, I did all of the things that my close friends and family who know me would expect I would do:: updated mine and my husband’s will, discussed with my husband how long he has to wait if I croak before he can remarry, discussed amongst my sisters who would be the recipient of my shoe collection, made very specific requests for food and songs at my funeral…you know…the usual stuff.

All joking aside, I have now received both of my vaccines and feel great. However, as of this publication I am unsure of whether I received the actual COVID- 19 vaccine or the saline placebo. I had a 66% chance of receiving the actual vaccine per the design of the clinical trial and the day after my second dose, I had fever, chills and body aches which I considered a good sign that perhaps I received the real deal. It is expected that the trial will soon transition to what is called a “blind crossover study” phase where trial participants are asked to come back to receive two more injections {21 days apart} and receive the opposite of what they were given in the first two injections. So for example, if I actually received the vaccine in my first two injections, my subsequent injections will be saline and vice versa. The idea is that at the end you are fully vaccinated, you just don’t know the point in time when you actually received the real vaccine.

A Shot of Hope

My hope is that by participating in this COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, I am helping medical researchers speed up the amount of time it takes to get through their clinical trials before seeking full FDA approval and subsequently getting more shots into arms as quickly as possible. This virus has been a complete beast that has quite literally tipped the world upside down and I can’t wait to tell my grandkids one day about how I got to be a part of scientific history by participating in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial.

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Vicki has always had Texan blood pumping through her veins. Raised in Katy as the oldest of four girls and now a resident of Kingwood, she’s known for her undying and somewhat fanatical love of all things related to H-E-B, Amazon Prime, Taylor Swift, and Texas A&M, her alma mater {WHOOP!}. She has a passion for supporting other working moms in the workplace, as well as military veterans. Married to Paul since 2011 {also an Aggie and a veteran}, she has three kids:: step-daughter Madeline {2003} and sons Hamilton {2014}, and Harrison {2019}. By day, Vicki is a full-time working mom who works in HR and by night she’s a closet “60 Minutes” & “Real Housewives” fan. Always first out on the dance floor for “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, Vicki enjoys unwinding with friends over a glass of wine, a new craft brew and/or a H-E-B cheese ball.


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