Saturday, April 3, 2021

Participating in the American AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial

I knew Covid was coming.  I had been watching it since December 2019, and when I had a doctor's visit in January I asked what I could do to help improve my immune system.  By March 2020, I had a doctor's visit, and I said if he knew of a vaccine trial, I wanted in.  He chuckled and said a vaccine was a ways off.  I knew it was, but I wanted in as soon as one was being developed.

I have more medical issues than I care to discuss, and I remember mid year in 2020, my husband having taken medical leave of absence and us having to pay over $1,200 a month for insurance.  I remember crying and asking my husband if we would live through 2020.  He said we would do our best.  When I heard in July Moderna was starting vaccine trials, I tried to get in, even though it would have meant driving about 12 hours each way.  I kept my eyes and ears peeled.

Finally, in November, I was doing some searches I do to look for contests and sweepstakes to enter.  I was on a TV station in my state, and I saw there was an AstraZeneca trial going on in that town.  I set my alarm so I could start calling for info first thing in the morning.  I left a message, didn't hear back within a few hours and called again.  I was determined.  I answered a few questions and was told that I would have a 66% chance of getting the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine.  My appointment was scheduled, and a few days later, I made the 3 1/2 hour trip to the study center.  I had to answer a lot of questions and finally I was given the shot.  I said it felt uncomfortable going in.  (I had the flu show about six weeks prior, and it hadn't felt like that.). I was told it could be because it was cold.  

My husband and I hadn't been much of anywhere for a long time, and being 3 1/2 hours from home, by the time I got to the car, I felt kinda lousy.  We had talked about all the great places we might get takeout from -- possibly Papa Johns, Long John Silver's, or Chipotle.  I was feeling so bad, I was grumpy, and I said for him to get food wherever.  As he was driving to Chipotle, I was feeling so bad I wasn't sure if I would want to eat.  But a chicken burrito made me feel a bit better.

For whatever reason, the foods that I want when I am not feeling well are always a cheeseburger with fries and/or ice cream.  Halfway home, I started complaining I wanted ice cream.  We found a Sheetz and I ordered a milkshake for curbside service.  I dozed most of the rest of the way back to home and went to bed immediately.  It had been a seven hour day, and stressful.

The next morning, I woke and while I told the study later, "I felt like I had been hit by a truck", it was more accurate that I felt like there were a dozen weighted blankets on me.  I didn't think I could move at all, but I had to go to the bathroom.  I made myself get up, but every muscle, joint, and even my tiniest toenail felt like it was too tired to move.  (Yes, I know there are no nerve endings in my toenails, but I have never felt like that before.).  The next day I felt fine, and I had to think that maybe just the trip wore me out that bad. 

For my next shot, I was prepared to feel the same way, but I didn't, so I was wondering if I had gotten the vaccine or not.  My arm itched, and the injection site was a little sore, but I have a lot of medical issues as well as allergies.

So life resumed, my husband going back to work, and since I had a 66% chance of having had the vaccine I started doing a few things I hadn't done in a year -- like going into a store, still being very cautious because there was a 33% chance I didn't get the vaccine, and even if I did, the vaccines are more likely to make Covid-19 less severe than to eliminate it completely.  

I put my name in to get the vaccine from my local health department.  At that point, the study would be unblinded to see if I got the vaccine or the placebo.  So when I received the call, I had to tell them that I would call them back.  The lady seemed very confused, didn't think I could have gotten the vaccine in November, etc.  I called the testing site and it was unblinded.

Obviously, I achieved what I set out to do -- receive the vaccine.  Part of the study was I could quit at any point, but I am thankful for having received it, and I will remain in the trial.  There have been lots of questions over the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, and I can't help but wonder if the blood clot issue happened more in people who already had Covid as that was something that could happen with Covid.  Were post-Covid numbers being compared to rate of blood clots in a pre-Covid world?  

I have spent much of the past year watching Dr. John Campbell from England on YouTube, and I felt safe enough (and still feel safe) taking the AstraZeneca vaccine.  It is approved in the United Kingdom, and while it has yet to be approved in the United States, I feel confident enough in it that as of now, I will not be taking another vaccine.  Obviously, I'm still taking all precautions, such as mask wearing, and my husband sewed me an adorable guinea pig mask.  I carry around hand sanitizer, and I haven't met up with friends or family in over a year now.  (I'm hoping that last one can change as the weather is getting better and more vaccines are being distributed.) 

I think I made a good decision to participate.  It was well informed, thanks to Dr. Campbell, and such an important vaccine to take part in the study.  While it hasn't been rolled out in the USA yet, I am hopeful that it will be, and I am happy I could take part in such a needed -- and historic study.  I had a lot of friends be in medical and psych trials in college, but I never participated.  I now realize how much people willing to participate are needed.  Hats off to everyone who has ever participated in a study like this!