By Tia Lynn Ivey
Kate Booker, of Madison, is one of 30,000 people worldwide volunteering to test out a new vaccine for COVID-19, the highly contagious and potentially lethal coronavirus currently sweeping the globe.
“I am a guinea pig now,” laughs Booker, employed with Piedmont Healthcare.
Booker decided to sign up for the clinical trial to be part of the solution in ending the coronavirus pandemic.
“I did this so people can go back to church without worrying. I did this so grandparents can hug their grandkids again. I did this so kids can go back to school. I did this so people can be together again sooner,” said Booker. “This pandemic won’t end until we have a widely available vaccine. I want to do whatever I can to help us get there faster.”
Booker signed up to participate in a two-year long clinical trial of a new COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer, through the Clinical Research Atlanta in Stockbridge, Ga. Booker received two injections and will be monitored over the course of the next two years to gauge if she develops COVID-19 antibodies or negative side effects.
“I keep a daily journal through an app to report any side effects,” said Booker, who will return to the lab in late September for blood work.
However, Booker doesn’t know whether or not she received the new vaccine or a placebo.
“Nobody in the trial knows which group they’re in,” explained Booker.
But so far, Booker has experienced some mild symptoms, such as slight inflammation, aches, and low-grade fever.
“That can happen with either the real study medicine or the placebo,” said Booker. “All my symptoms went away on their own.”
As director of quality of safety at Piedmont Newton and Piedmont Walton, Booker has seen firsthand how serious the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the lives of those infected and the lives of healthcare workers tending to the sick.
“Both Walton and Newton counties have been hit hard with the coronavirus,” said Booker. “I don’t provide direct patient care, but I work with the people who, and part of my job is to take care of them. I have seen the amount of stress and fatigue among our healthcare workers due to COVID.”
Booker hopes this trial will result in a safe vaccine for the public.
“This won’t end until we have a vaccine. I just hope my small part in this trial can help get us there,” said Booker. “In the meantime, everyone please wear a mask. Wash your hands. We are all in this together, let’s all do what we can.”