ALLENDALE, Mich. — “To be honest, I’m more hesitant doing this interview than I was participating in the study. And that’s just because people sometimes aren‘t nice.”
That’s what Allendale mother of two, Aaron Haight, told Fox 17 about her family’s decision to sign-up her two sons for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine study for adolescents ages 12-17.
“I was the parent who spread out their vaccines when they were babies, right," Haight said. "I take precautions, but we also had lots of conversations in our house about risk versus reward.”
“We had some deaths in family and really close family friends. I want a solution, I want this to be done. Not just for me but for everybody else,” Aaron explained as she sat along side her two boys, Vance, 12, Jacek, 15, and her husband, Wayne. “We had conversations of ‘Are you scared?’ things like that. But I think we were just pretty ok with going for it,” Wayne explained to us about the 13 month study out of Valparaiso, Indiana involving three thousand kids.
The boys got their first shot in February and their second in March, not knowing if they got the Moderna vaccine or a placebo.
But both boys told us they were hopeful that if they received the actual vaccine, it would keep them from being removed from school and extra curricular activities due to close contact.
“I wanted to keep playing sports,” explained Jacek, the freshman at Allendale High School who plays both baseball and basketball.
However when Pfizer made vaccines available for Jacek and Vance’s age group earlier in May, the family wanted to make sure the boys were properly vaccinated one way or another, so Aaron reached out to the clinic for some clarity.
“I got the phone call and they said they had unblinded them," Haight said. "First they said ‘We unblinded Jacek and he received the placebo,’ then she called me back and said ‘You’re not going to believe this but he (Vance) received the placebo too’. I said, ‘What are the odds?’ That day immediately I got off the phone and I booked for them to go get Pfizer.”
Both boys admit they were initially disappointed that they didn’t receive the real vaccine, partly because they weren’t looking forward to getting two more shots.
But overall, they were happy with the decision they made to be a part of the solution.
“I know both of them are strong and confident in who they are and the decisions that they made,” Aaron explained.
12 year old Vance added, “It makes me feel good because I helped people.”
That good feeling from the study is something that Paul Evans, chief executive of Velocity Clinical Research, echoed.
“So you could go all the way through the study and get no benefit in that way, which is what clearly happened with these two boys," Evans said. "But again, if it wasn’t for the fact they did this study, we wouldn’t have these vaccines come to the market so these people are heroes. They’re the ones that are helping all of us to get through this pandemic.”
Evans says Velocity Clinical Research has 16 different research sites spread across the U.S. and the recruitment process was sped up with these COVID-19 vaccine trials thanks to the amount of media and social media attention they received.
He said Velocity also recruited 30,000 adults for another trial and it took only about 4-6 weeks, where it normally would have taken between 6-12 months.