Up Close and Personal with the COVID-19 Vaccine

A story of science, gratitude and protocols that work

I wanted to help. 

As a bioengineer and healthcare worker, my passion for research and advancement was undoubtedly triggered by COVID-19. With that, I knew participating in an early vaccine study was one way I could contribute to science and ending this pandemic. 

Not only was my decision rooted in my love for science and patient care, but also for me, it was personal. Taking care of my father-in-law during his near-death battle with the virus in March 2020 took a significant physical and emotional toll on my family. At the time, there was little to no research on patient management or the complications we faced. 

Gratefully, my father-in-law survived. As such, I knew that participating in the phase three clinical trials of a vaccine study could help prevent other families from living through this same type of harrowing experience. 

In August of 2020, I received my first injection as part of the COVE study by Moderna. Five months after my first shot, the vaccine was proven to be effective—great news! Now, with the emergency use authorization, I watched as many of my friends, family and colleagues began to receive vaccines. I was still in the dark, though, not knowing if my injection from five months prior was the vaccine—or just saline.

On January 6, 2021, the COVE study was finally unblinded. I found out I had received the placebo—but this was the best news! Why? Because it proved that every single protocol I followed from the beginning WORKED: wearing an N95 or NIOSH-approved KN95 mask; washing my hands constantly; and remaining vigilant about social decisions. Yes, as many of you will agree, these precautions have become tiresome and mundane, but this was proof that they work! 

Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive my first real dose of the Moderna vaccine and will remain a participant in the COVE study. I can’t tell you enough how appreciative I am to continue to contribute to such groundbreaking research and protect my family, patients and myself while doing so. 

Receiving the real vaccine doesn’t mean that my life has changed. I still wear a mask, wash my hands and make smart social decisions. It’s worth remembering that the vaccine is proven to ensure that we do not get critically ill, it does not necessarily completely prevent infection or spread. I urge you to hang in there, keep pushing through and protecting yourselves and others until the vaccine is widely available. Because, guess what? It’s paying off—and it’s saving lives.

For the love of science, health and the wellness of our friends and family, stay vigilant and protect yourself and those around you. In the end science will prevail!