Cedar Rapids Councilwoman applauds Pfizer vaccine trial after participating

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL)- Tens of thousands of Americans are part of different trials to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, drug maker Pfizer announced it would apply for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine. The company says trials have shown it is nearly 95% effective.

Around 270 Iowans have taken part in the Pfizer trial at University of Iowa Healthcare. Cedar Rapids City Councilmember Ashley Vanorny is one of them.

“There are always calculated risks that you take but they’re good and necessary risks,” Vanorny said. “Somebody’s got to participate in these trials. I made a deal with them, verbally you know that if I were ever healthy enough and physically able and available, I would help them out.”

Vanorny said she’s participated in several medical trials in Iowa City, dating back to her psychology courses at the U of I.

“I really maintain that just because I’m interested in research and I know that somebody’s got to do it,” she said.

Vanorny said she got her first dose in early August and her second shot a month later. The second shot gave her some mild symptoms.

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“Maybe 12 hours after the fact, I started feeling a little bit icky,” she said. “I had a mild headache and a slight fever. I think the worst part for me was probably the chills and muscle aches but everything resolved within 24 hours.”

Vanorny said she was still able to work while experiencing symptoms; she likened it to not feeling great after getting your yearly flu shot.

“The next day, you probably don’t want to go and have some glamor shots or have some family photos scheduled for the next day,” she said. “It is something that we can schedule into our lives.”

Vanorny said she wants to talk about the experience so others know what to expect.

As COVID rose in March and companies raced to find a vaccine throughout the pandemic, Vanorny has had a front-row seat every step of the way. She works as a manager in the emergency room at Mercy Cedar Rapids.

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“It has been really fascinating to be a part of,” she said.

Some are nervous about getting the first vaccine to be approved. Doctors overseeing the trial said though some aspects of the process have been sped up, every possible safety measure has been taken.

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“This feels the same as the other handful of trials I’ve been a part of,” Vanorny said. “I feel very confident that my safety has been, you know, the number one priority as a participant in this research trial.”

Even as Pfizer asks the FDA for a green light, Vanorny said she still does not know if she got the vaccine.

In the trial, some of the participants got the vaccine while others got a placebo. This holiday season, Vanorny said she is not taking any risks like seeing her family in-person.

“I love cooking and seeing them for the holidays,” she said. “It’s not the time for that, yet unfortunately. We have to be a little bit more patient.”

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Maybe not this Thanksgiving, but she is holding out hope they will be reunited in-person soon.

The FDA will analyze the Pfizer trial’s raw data and then decide whether to approve it during a meeting in December. That is when Vanorny said she would find out if she had the vaccine or the placebo. Those who got the placebo will be given the vaccine as soon as it is approved.

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UIHC doctors say they will continue to monitor patients like Vanorny for two years to keep watching for any later showing side effects. She said she has a weekly reminder set to check in with them on how she is feeling.

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