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COVID-19 vaccine trial participants reveal why taking part was so important to them

Before COVID-19 vaccines were approved for distribution around the country, Americans braved possible side effects by volunteering for vaccine trials to help others. A doctor trying to alleviate skepticism for the vaccine among marginalized groups and a mother-daughter nurse duo share their stories.

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Before COVID-19 vaccines were approved for distribution around the country, Americans braved possible side effects by volunteering for vaccine trials to help others.

A mother-daughter nurse duo talks about their experience being COVID-19 vaccine trial participants. Barbara Harper and her daughter, Laura, both volunteered for the Moderna trial in 2020. Barbara was especially keen to get the vaccine because she lost a lung to pneumonia many years ago.

Members of the Black community also express their concerns about the vaccine while prominent Black healthcare workers attempt to ease their worries.

"There’s a profound distrust in many of our communities, especially Black and African American communities, in regards to health care. And that distrust is warranted," says Dr. David Tom Cooke from U.C. Davis Health.

But Dr. Cooke, who participated in the Pfizer trial, is working to reassure people that the vaccine is safe, adding, "You’re not a guinea pig. Individuals like us who participated in the trial were the guinea pigs, and now we have a defined product that you can benefit from."



We are living in unprecedented times with COVID-19 spreading across the nation and world, and the stories about how people are coping, battling, and persevering through the pandemic have become more important than ever.

In each episode, “Field Notes” brings you a handful of stories about how coronavirus has impacted real people across the United States, and you can hear more about what it’s like to cover the pandemic from the local news teams that are committed to keeping you informed, no matter what.