Cherry Health looks for vaccine trial volunteers

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the world looks for a way to contain COVID-19, a local clinic is offering the chance to be part of the effort.

Cherry Health in Grand Rapids is recruiting volunteers to test Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine.

It is a two-year study.

One local participant says the trial gives her a chance to be part of the solution.

“We need to get over this, so we can get on,” said Sarah Lackey.

The 27-year-old married mother of one signed up to take a shot she hopes will prove Johnson & Johnson’s Ensemble vaccine is effective.

“Being in the vaccine trial was kind of just my way of trying to stop this and get over COVID and get back on with our normal lives,” Lackey said.

A student studying to become a physician’s assistant, Lackey is among the 60,000 Americans Johnson and Johnson hope to sign up for the trial.

She signed up on Cherry Health’s website.

A month later, she was called in for what would be an eight-hour appointment that included an exam, a test for COVID-19 and details on what to expect.

Lackey’s progress is monitored on an app.

“It’s every day at first for like a day or two. And then after that, it’s twice a week, you log in and report any symptoms that you have,” Lackey said.

It’s a double-blind study, which means some volunteers will get the vaccine and the others will get a placebo.

Volunteers must adhere to the same COVID-19 precautions as the rest of us.

“I wear my mask everywhere. I social distance. All that,” Lackey said.

Volunteers also have the option of opting out at any time.

“So, if another vaccination comes into play and you have to get it through work, or you just want to make sure you’re protected, you would probably have to leave the study,” Lackey said.

She and the other volunteers are offering up their services amid the continuing debate over mask-wearing, social distancing and other restrictions.

But Lackey believes the trial is a chance to prove we’re more united than divided.

“I think one of the only benefits about COVID is it’s uniting us as a country. We have this common enemy that we need to defeat,” Lackey said. “And being a part of that is pretty amazing.”

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