Bonnie Blue, one of the first participants in the Moderna vaccine trial at the University of Illinois Chicago, spoke about her experience Tuesday, saying she took a "huge risk" in doing the trial.
Blue, who joined Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his daily coronavirus update, is a 68-year-old former Senior Case Manager in the HIV program at Provident
Hospital of Cook County with asthma who said her "body is fragile."
She chose to take part in the trial despite objections from loved ones due to being so at-risk.
"For a person that has been on life support so many times, for me to take part in this trial was a huge risk, a risk my family and friends weren’t happy I was taking, but I’m here," she said.
The vaccine from U.S. biotech firm Moderna is one of multiple vaccines nearing approval in the U.S. If all goes well this week, the FDA will give the Pfizer vaccine emergency approval in the U.S. Next up is Moderna, which has also submitted its EUA application.
But as thousands prepare to be vaccinated, and thousands more participate in other COVID vaccine trials, residents may be wondering - what do we know about potential side-effects of the vaccine?
Blue said she experienced some fatigue and headaches, but overall she "didn't have horrible side effects" from the trial.
"I’m fine. I didn’t have horrible side effects from anything. You have a little fatigue and a little headache, but those resolve, and then you’re able to go on and live your life," she said.
It was not immediately clear if Blue knew whether or not she received the actual vaccine or a placebo.
UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said 25-50% of 75,000 patients involved in the Pfizer and Moderna trials experienced some side effects. Fifteen percent of them were more serious and needed more than a day to recover.
“It's your body’s immune system trying to get activated because it’s seeing this new thing and the way that it gets activated is the way you’re feeling which is inflammation,” Chin-Hong said. “The virus is not in the vaccine, this vaccine is completely infection-free.”
One Pfizer trial participant told CNBC that after the second shot, he woke up with chills, shaking so hard he cracked a tooth. "It hurt to even just lay in my bed sheet," he said.
In contrast, Carson Clark, who participated in the Pfizer vaccine in September, said he experienced some fatigue.
“The day I got the shots my arm got pretty sore then the next day I got some sort of general fatigue,” Clark said.
He said he wasn’t alarmed by it because he was given this list of side effects to expect which include tiredness, chills, loss of appetite, muscle aches and sweating.
“It only lasted that one day,” he said. “It was gone the next day after that.”
The FDA said that while side effects of the Pfizer vaccine are common, there are “no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of an EUA.”
Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca vaccine trial was put on pause when a patient experienced spinal cord inflammation. The case has been reviewed and was allowed to continue, but very little is known about its side effects.
Moderna stopped testing the highest dose of its vaccine during the trial because of the number of reports of severe adverse reactions.