Gainesville VA seeking COVID-19 vaccine trial volunteers

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 5:36 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville says they need your help in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

VA research departments across the country are recruiting participants for the fourth largest vaccine trial in the country. The single-dose vaccine is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The goal is to enroll up to 60,000 participants.

When VA in Gainesville was asked to participate, VA Principle Investigator Dr. Sriram, said it was a no-brainer.

“We said absolutely yes because we want to help the people and the community, in general, to help fight this pandemic. We have so many people dying all over ... so we absolutely need a vaccine that is going to be effective.”

The first visit can take up to 3 hours and there are up to 8 follow-up visits. According to the program’s director, those follow up visits should only take around 15 minutes.

Anyone over the age of 18 can volunteer. Groups who have been affected by the pandemic at higher rates are especially encouraged, including frontline and essential workers as well as minorities and those above the age of 60.

Experts say the benefits include possibly strengthening your immunity for the disease while also playing a part in the world-wide effort towards developing a vaccine.

“If you get the true vaccine, you will have some degree of immunity against this. So the idea is, if you do get COVID, the disease severity will not be as bad ... so you will end up with mild disease compared with what other people are having,” said Dr. Sriram.

If you do volunteer and end up receiving the placebo drug, Janssen and the VA have you covered.

“We can’t guarantee you will get the actual vaccine ... but once the study is over, Janssen will offer the placebo arm of the study the vaccine, if it becomes FDA approved,” said Project Manager Katherine Solis.

Dr. Sriram said it will take a group effort and that every participant makes a difference.

“One company or one manufacturer will not be able to provide vaccinations for the entire world … so that’s why it is very essential for multiple companies to be involved in this trial.”

All participants are sent home with the necessary supplies for data to include in their electronic diary and members of the VA Research team will be available 24/7.

For more information and to sign up, click HERE.

To sign up, you can also call (352) 548-6000 EXT. 104722

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