COVID-19: First experimental vaccine shot given to volunteer
A 44-year-old Seattle mother of two who was the first healthy person to receive an experimental coronavirus vaccine compared the injection to a “regular flu shot” – but said signing up for the test carried “a ton of risks,” according to a report.
Jennifer Haller, an operations manager at a tech startup her decided to respond to a call-out on Facebook for volunteers to take part in the historic trial.
“Even at that time we were all feeling so helpless,” she told the UK news outlet while in self-isolation. “There was nothing I could do to stop this global pandemic. Then I saw this opportunity come up and thought: ‘Well, maybe there is something I can do to contribute.’”
Haller said the trial offered her a chance to be proactive amid the widening pandemic last month.
“It gave me some sense of control,” she told the news outlet. “We’re all so out of control and helpless. This just gave me something that I could hold on to that could be helpful.”
Despite Haller’s eagerness, her husband, relatives, and friends expressed grave concerns as she underwent a battery of medical tests to be approved for the trial.
She and her husband had allowed their infant son to take part in some medical studies — but this was an entirely different matter for many reasons, not the least of which was that participants were informed they could be more vulnerable to catching COVID-19 afterward.
Haller tried to allay her loved ones’ fears by pointing out that she would not receive any part of the novel virus itself in the vaccine, called mRNA-1273, which had shown promise after being tested on animals.
But this was the first time it would be given to a human, so questions remained.
In the trial, run by Seattle’s Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, participants would receive two doses of the experimental vaccine 28 days apart, then a year of monitoring.
“There were a ton of risks involved. But I’m a real positive person and the benefits of this far outweighed any risks in my mind,” Haller said.
On March 16, she discovered she was to be the first person to receive the experimental vaccine when she showed up and saw the Associated Press, which had been invited for the launch.