How you can participate in COVID vaccine trial

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 12:09 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - One of the vaccines for COVID-19 will be tested in our region.

The UVM Medical Center announced Tuesday that it has been selected to participate in AstraZeneca’s Phase 3 trial. They’re looking for at least 250 volunteers to take part in the two-year study.

The research could help determine whether the vaccine works to keep people safe and what the long-term impacts might be.

Tuesday, the governor and other state officials heralded the selection of the state’s largest hospital for the COVID-19 vaccine trials.

“This is a testament to the UVM Medical Center’s leadership and expertise, and will allow Vermonters to contribute to the important work of vaccine development,” said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

The vaccine, developed by Oxford University, has already cleared safety hurdles. Now, it’s time to find out if it works to protect people from the coronavirus.

The UVM Medical Center is one of 80 sites in the country tasked with enrolling 30,000 volunteers to get the two-dose vaccine. Two-thirds of participants will get the vaccine, the other third will get a placebo.

“We’re really looking forward to working with the community to help end the global pandemic,” said Dr. Beth Kirkpatrick, an infectious disease specialist at the UVM Medical Center.

So who are they looking for for this study? They already said they want one-quarter of the study participants to be seniors. They also want people who through their job are at increased risk of getting COVID-19. And they’re also looking for people who have chronic illnesses but are in stable health condition. They are not necessarily looking for young and healthy people.

If you’re not sure, they have a survey that they use as a screening tool to figure out if you’re a good candidate. The questions were about what you might expect: Are you over 18? Have you been diagnosed with COVID before? Some demographics like age, race and employment, including how often you go into an office. There are medical history questions, like whether you’ve had certain diseases, donated or gotten blood, been hospitalized or had recent vaccines that are not the flu shot. Also-- whether you’re pregnant and what prescriptions you’re taking.

There are a few dozen of them but it’s a quick survey. All told, it took me less than five minutes to fill it out. On the last screen, it said they will look over the results, and if I fit the profile for someone who goes into the vaccine study, they will reach out to me.

If you want to fill it out, you should do it soon.

“We don’t have a lot of time. The study should be enrolled within six to eight weeks,” Kirkpatrick said.

Any volunteers will go through a rigorous screening process. They are also able to leave the study if they choose to get a different vaccine down the line.

If the AstraZeneca vaccine is licensed before the two-year study period is up, the trial will stop and anyone who got a placebo will get the regular vaccine.

And at the end of the study period, anyone who got a placebo will be warned so they can go get an actual shot.

This is the same study that was put on hold in early September after a woman in England reportedly had neurological symptoms associated with a rare spinal inflammatory disorder. Kirkpatrick said both an FDA review and an independent review found no issues and so the trial resumed as of last Friday.

Click here to learn more about participating in the trial or call 802-847-7339.

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