By Tia Lynn Ivey
A local Madison woman, who is both a healthcare worker and volunteer in Pfizer’s vaccine trial for COVID-19, is vouching for the testing process.
Kate Booker, of Madison, is one of 30,000 people worldwide volunteering with Pfizer to test out a new vaccine for COVID-19, the highly contagious and potentially lethal coronavirus currently sweeping the globe.
“As you probably know, the Pfizer COVID vaccine is about to be given outside of the study phase. In fact, first doses were given in the U.K. this morning,” wrote Booker on Facebook, Tuesday, Dec. 8 “This is a huge step forward in getting this pandemic under control and getting back to normal life.”
Booker is currently awaiting the revelation on whether or not she received a placebo or the actual vaccine during trial participation.
“As for me, I will be unblinded this week, and will be able to tell everyone whether I got the study med or the placebo,” explained Booker.
Regardless of Booker’s personal outcome, she praised the study and urged people to trust the vaccine once it becomes available.
“I need to say something about this study. The methods and procedures were completely sound,” said Booker. “There were no corners cut and nothing was ‘rushed.’ Nothing sinister is occurring related to this vaccine. Brilliant minds were involved in the development of this and the fact that there is enough data to demonstrate safety and efficacy in such a short period of time is a testament to how determined the researchers have been to get this done, and done right. I never at any time considered that I was taking a big risk. Communication and safety has been top priority since August, when I got my first injection. Pfizer has been wonderful to work with and I cannot stress enough how important it will be to trust this vaccine when it becomes available.”
Book signed up over the summer to participate in the trial study in hopes of playing a small part in eradicating 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 in an earlier interview. “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.
Booker experienced some mild symptoms, such as slight inflammation, aches, and low-grade fever after first taking the injections.
“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 is excited to see a vaccine on the horizon for the general 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.”