Woman volunteering for local COVID vaccine trial – ‘I don’t want this to be the new normal’

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CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – As clinical trials for one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates continue in the St. Louis area, a woman who just finished getting her shots has opened up about why she wanted to be part of the trial.

The Clinical Research Professionals (CRP) clinic in Chesterfield is one of the busiest trial sites in America, part of the Pfizer vaccine trial. Katina McAfee told FOX 2 she was tired of the toll COVID-19 had taken on us all, including her family.

She was also tired of wearing a mask.

“Some people take of their shoes off first thing. (For me) it’s like, ‘mask off’,” she said. “I don’t want to get used to this new norm. I like being around people and seeing people smile.”

McAfee, 45, is an assistant store manager for Dierbergs, a wife, mother, and grandmother.

She’s lost three family members to COVID-19, including her grandfather, 93-year-old John McIntire, and uncle, 64-year-old Ray Stewart, both of Detroit.

She’s part of the trial against the wishes of her own daughter and husband. She has both asthma and an auto-immune disease. They worry about the trial making her sick.

For her, there’s another side to the coin.

“I’m like, ‘What if I catch coronavirus?’ It has to end somewhere. I know the powers that be and the smart people are going to come up with a vaccine,” she said. “I’m like, ‘You know what, somebody has to do it. Why not me?’”

She’s part of the second largest trial group in the nation. So far, not one of the close to 650 participants at CRP has dropped from the trial, which is now expanding beyond adults.

Trials involving 16- and 17-year-olds began a few weeks ago. Testing on 12- to 15-year-olds could start by the end of the month.

You can check to see if you or your child qualifies for the trial at www.crpvaccine.com.

Medical professionals and their children are among the volunteers. There have been no red flags thus far. Pfizer is expected to present data to the FDA for vaccine approval in as little as four weeks.

“They’re not seeing any reason that we shouldn’t continue to follow the plan,” said clinic director Marianne Tow.

The clinic staff only administers doses, collects data, and monitors the patients for Pfizer, she said. They do no not have access to the results.

“So many people are just doing this because they want to try to do something positive,” Tow said. “They want to be part of the solution. They want to feel they’ve contributed to helping society get through this.”

“I’ll be able to say, ‘Yes, I did it!’” McAfee said. “Coronavirus is going to go down in history books. Somewhere, grandkids, great-grandkids, they’ll be able to say, my grandma did that.”

Though she’s received her two shots, her part in the trial is far from finished. She’ll have four more visits here for monitoring and blood work over the next two years.

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