A behind the scenes look at local Covid-19 vaccine trials

MEDFORD, Ore. — “I think the study needs people who are willing to put themselves out there, so it’s something I can do to feel productive,” said Marianne Robison, a Covid-19 vaccine trial participant.

First comes the alcohol swab, then a little pinch.

Now, Marianne Robison is making history.

“I don’t know if I’m getting the placebo or the vaccine. This is the case where you wake up the next day feeling a little achey going yea, I got it,” said Robison.

The retired Talent Middle School teacher is one of hundreds participating in Covid-19 vaccine trials at ‘Velocity Clinical Research’ in Medford.

She’s hoping to set an example for her younger brother who’s skeptical about vaccines.

“I try to be that reasoning mind with him saying this is what science is saying and this needs to happen so I can see you again. He lives in Montana and until we get through this pandemic, I can’t travel to go see him, or be near him, or hug him, and it’s heartbreaking,” said Robison.

In his nearly twenty years at the clinic, site director Dan Hamlin says he’s never seen a trial with so many people eager to participate.

“We don’t really have to do any seeking of patients. The patients are really seeking us out,” said Hamlin.

He says the clinic had over 420 patients for the Moderna trial, one of the highest numbers nationwide.

“Our biggest challenge is being able to handle the volume of patients that want to participate,” said Hamlin.

After signing some paperwork, Hamlin says patients go through a physical exam, nasal swabs to test for Covid-19, and an antibody test to check for previous exposure to the virus.

When it comes to the shot, he says the patient and even many staff members are ‘blind’ to what they’re injecting.

“The vaccine is mixed by an unblinded staff member who [knows] what the patient is getting but they’re not allowed to tell anybody,” said Hamlin.

Side effects of the vaccine, Hamlin says, are similar to a flu vaccination, such as having a sore arm or fatigue.

He says reasons people participate in the vaccine trials can vary.

“They’re doing it because they’re concerned for their own health or the health of others,” said Hamlin.

While Robison admits protection against Covid-19 would be nice.

“I have two sons who I’m not able to see. One is in Seattle, one is in New York with his wife and I don’t know when I’ll get to see them again,” said Robison.

She and others say it’s about something more, to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

“Never have we ever seen our work be more relevant than it is right now,” said Hamlin.

“If it inspires anybody to not be afraid to get the vaccine once it’s available to you please do it. It affects all of us and we’ve got to think past ourselves,” said Robison.

Hamlin says there is a chance, at some point, patients may be notified if they got the placebo instead of the vaccine.

But the clinic says drug companies haven’t decided if they will do that yet.

Click here if you’re interested in participating in the vaccine trials.

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