Coronavirus vaccine trials begin in Florida

Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

The U.S. broke records with more than 100,000 coronavirus cases in a day.
Florida’s numbers are up, too: Charlotte County has almost 4,000 cases, Lee is reporting just over 24,000 and Collier has almost 15,000.

There are now clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine in Florida. As in any medical trials, there are risks involved.

Dr. Bruce Rankin, physician investigator at Accel Clinical Research, is overseeing some vaccine trials. He says some participants have experienced a fever, chills and muscle soreness

“None of the vaccines we’ve tested have any live virus in them, so there’s no way to catch the virus from the vaccine, and there’s no way to spread illness to anybody else,” Rankin said.

Each participant receives two vaccines three weeks apart. One month later, they return for blood work. Rankin’s team continues to monitor the participants to test the effectiveness of the vaccine and to determine how often our bodies would require it.

This is the fastest Rankin has seen a vaccine begin testing, which has some people concerned about the vaccine’s safety.

“First the scientists would have to say ‘Yes, it’s OK to take’ and that it’s been checked out and we’re fairly certain that it’s safe and that it works, I’m not in a rush,” said Sue Simoneau from Estero.

Dr. Rankin says a new round of trials will start later this month in Lakeland and St. Petersburg. There aren’t any Southwest Florida vaccine trials, but that didn’t stop a Naples couple from participating They went up to Central Florida in July to take part in a COVID-19 vaccination trial with Dr. Rankin.

“We don’t wake up in the morning worrying about smallpox, measles or polio because vaccines made a difference, so they play a vital role in disease management,” Rankin said.  “So it is really important that we get something out there, because there are a lot of people having severe illness, critically and severe illnesses from COVID[-19] and the best way to prevent that is herd immunity.”

There are two ways to achieve herd immunity: We all become infected with the virus, which Rankin says is too risky and would take too long, or we let doctors and scientists continue to test for a safe vaccine and, once approved, distribute it to the masses.

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