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Utah lawmaker talks about his time in the Covid-19 vaccine study

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. On Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, Pfizer said an early peek at its vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah politician participated in a COVID-19 vaccine trial and says it was a risk but he has no regrets for being part of the study.

Utah Republican Rep. Steve Eliason of Sandy joined Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine study. The inoculation is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to early data released Monday by the company.

“It’s just as good as it gets — 94.5% is truly outstanding,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said vaccinations could begin during the second half of December. Fauci is an immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

How a Utah lawmaker wound up in a COVID-19 vaccine study

Eliason said he learned about the clinical trial through one of the doctors where he works and volunteered to enroll in the study.

Eliason works as a finance director at the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics.

Participants receive two doses of the vaccine 28 days apart in the Moderna trial, he said. Half of the volunteers receive a placebo in the double-blind study.

Eliason said he suffered injection-site soreness, chills and a low-grade fever after the twin doses.

“Easily managed, though, with some Tylenol or Advil,” he said.

Eliason said he found out that he received the actual vaccine, not the placebo.

Won’t change his behavior about the virus

“So you’re vaccinated now against COVID-19?” Debbie asked.

“That’s correct,” he said.

“Is that awesome?” she asked.

“I just presented a bill at the Capitol, I wore my mask, I social distanced — I am not going to change my behavior whatsoever,” Eliason said. “But there is a component that is nice to know that if by whatever means, even if I am as careful as ever, if I come in contact with the virus, that the chances of it impacting me are very little.”

He added that people who received the vaccine and later contracted the virus did not become seriously ill. But some of those who received the placebo and later contracted the virus became very ill.

Kids and the vaccine trials

Dave asked if Eliason would be OK with his children being involved in the clinical trial.

He said two of his adult children were on the waiting list to participate in the vaccine trial but that it was filled before their names were reached. Eliason said he would have no objections to his children joining the trial. He added that it was a hard decision to participate in the trial.

“Do you worry about any long-term side effects that would creep up on you down the road because you participated in this early phase of the vaccine?” Debbie asked.

“It’s a risk,” he said. “Reading numerous articles about the long-term consequences of contracting Covid  . . . I wouldn’t change my behavior or my participation in this trial based on what I know at this point . . . Don’t really have any concerns about that.”

 

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How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States