People who participated in coronavirus vaccine clinical trials are glad they did so and encourage others to go ahead and get the vaccine when they become eligible.
Speaking during a COVID-19 vaccine rollout panel discussion sponsored by the city of West Hollywood on Tuesday, three people who were in the clinical trials reported they are relieved to have gotten the vaccine and no longer have that worry.
“All in all, I’d do it again,” said WeHo resident Amanda Laflen, who participated in a Pfizer vaccine trial in the fall. “I would encourage friends to do it. For me it was the right choice.”
Laflen reported despite having a strong reaction to both doses of the vaccine, it was worth it for the peace of mind it ultimately has brought her knowing she’s protected.
Karriann Farrell Hinds reported initially being reluctant to get the vaccine, but also worried about black and brown communities being left out of the vaccination process. Wanting to be able to offer first-hand testimony to friends about her experience, she participated in an AstraZeneca vaccine trial in January.
“The relief is very real for me,” said Hinds who didn’t realize how much anxiety about the virus was weighing on her until she was vaccinated.
Austin Cyr volunteered because he wanted to do his part to help end the pandemic. He received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in November.
Even though he was in a double blind test where some participants were given placebos, he is confident he got the “real thing” because he had a strong reaction to the shot. He, too, said knowing he was vaccinated brought him peace of mind.
So far, only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for mass vaccinations, but the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected to be reviewed for approval soon.
At Cedars Sinai Medical Center, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one they have received because they are equipped to handle the sub-zero temperatures required for storing the Pfizer vaccine, according to Dr. Richard Riggs, Chief Medical Officer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Riggs reported they are gearing up to administer 30,000 doses a week at the drive-through inoculation center on the second floor of the Beverly Center’s parking deck.
At the moment, there are vaccine shortages, but once the supply is plentiful, they are ready to go. “Bring it on, we’ll get it in the arms,” said Riggs.
Dr. Paul Simon, the chief science officer at Los Angeles County Public Health Department, reported so far about 1.7 million people in the county have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while about 500,000 people have received both doses.
Simon said the county can administer 600,000 doses of the vaccine each week at sites across the county. However, they are only getting about 200,000 to 250,000 doses per week.
He is cautiously optimistic the supply will increase significantly in April.
And when will we achieve herd immunity?
Simon doesn’t know for certain how soon that will happen, but is confident it will.
“I think we’ll have a good sense of [herd immunity] when we see our COVID case numbers coming down dramatically. In particular seeing hospitalizations coming down dramatically,” said Simon. “If the vaccine has been widely distributed and its working, the studies would suggest that it would be very rare someone would get really sick with COVID, so I think that will be the telling sign. I’m hopeful by summer, we will see that.”