Why I took part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial - Claire's Story
Throughout the pandemic, it’s been part of my job to promote the NHS Vaccine Registry far and wide so that people will register their interest in taking part in studies to find vaccines for the virus. At the time of writing, over 36,000 have come forward and more are still needed as different trials continue.
In the circumstances, I felt it was the right thing for me to sign up myself - and I’m glad I did. Through the Registry, I was randomised on to a vaccine trial taking place at Midlands NHS Partnership Foundation Trust and a year ago this week I had my initial appointment after being sent a very comprehensive patient information leaflet to help me decide.
Everyone was very welcoming and I was taken through a thorough health questionnaire as well as key points about how the study would work. After a blood test and various observations - blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation - I was given an (almost painless!) injection.
The trial was double blind, which means that I didn’t know last year whether I received the vaccine or a placebo (which in this case was just a saline solution), and the clinicians didn't know either - everything was managed via a code, to prevent any unconscious bias affecting the process. In a medical emergency they could find out very quickly which one was administered, but thankfully that was not necessary.
I also had to learn how to do a home swab test in case I develop any Covid-19 symptoms, and download an app on to my phone to help with administering the trial.
I had a follow-up appointment three weeks later, when I had a second vaccination and then subsequent appointments a fortnight later and at three, six and 12 months (but no more vaccinations!). Throughout my participation I was very confident that support was available if I had any issues, and I could have withdrawn from the trial at any time if I wanted to (I didn't). This week I have been for my end of study appointment - one last blood test and advice on getting a booster. I discovered that I had in fact received the vaccine last November, so I have been protected from the virus for 12 months now. I am very grateful to the study team for the opportunity.
At the end of last year, a friend messaged me to say: ‘I can’t tell you how much hope it’s given me to know the vaccine trials are under way in earnest.’
I was so pleased to hear that, and to be able to do something proactive to help find a solution to the situation which has affected everyone, whether they have contracted Covid-19 or not. And an added bonus was getting the chance to see so many of my Network colleagues carrying out the trial so cheerfully and efficiently in Partnership with the Trust.
It has been a strange and challenging year for us all but we can say that we did our bit, and that means a lot.
By Claire Hall, CRN West Midlands Communications Lead, November 2021
If you have benefiited from clinical research in the form of a Covid-19 Vaccine and would like to Pay It Forward, please visit www.bepartofresearch.nihr.ac.uk.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.