Insight Into The mRNA-1273 Vaccine Trial


On Saturday, January 23, I attended my first visit as a volunteer for Moderna Incorporated’s adolescent mRNA-1273 vaccine trial. The vaccine aims to protect people from the infectious Covid-19 disease. In hopes of informing others about this trial, I would like to share my experience.

On Saturday morning I entered the Lynn Health Science Institute located on fifty-eighth street near Integris Baptist Hospital. Upon checking in, my mother and I signed a series of consent forms. The trial is to go on for thirteen months and is expected to have approximately three-thousand participants between the ages of twelve and seventeen from twenty sites across the country. Over the course of these thirteen months, each volunteer is expected to attend up to six in-person visits, approximately two virtual visits, and about 11 telephone calls.

On the days of (and at least six days after) each injection, participants must also record their temperature and symptoms via an electronic diary. Every volunteer is paid ninety dollars for each visit, and twenty-seven dollars for each phone call and electronic diary entry. After we had read and signed every form, I had a brief consultation where I discussed my medical history. Afterward, I began a series of tests including a nasal swab and a blood test. Blood tests are administered on days one and fifty-seven, and months seven and thirteen of the trial where approximately four teaspoons of blood are drawn.

A physician then examined me as one would at a typical check-up. Finally, I received my injection. This trial is observer-blind, meaning neither the study doctor nor the participants know whether they have received the placebo or the vaccine. In this study, two out of every three participants receive the vaccine. After I was given the shot, I was asked to remain on the site for an hour. After the hour was up, my blood pressure was taken for the second time as well as my temperature. The entire visit took about two and half hours.  Upon receiving my first shot, I experienced slight soreness in my arm, but no other symptoms. My next injection is scheduled for February 26 when I will either receive a second dose of the vaccine or another saline injection.

The trial is in the second of three phases. Healthy adolescents between the ages of twelve and seventeen who have never tested positive for Covid-19 are eligible for the trial. Participants are allowed to drop out of the trial at any time regardless of the reason. The trial tests a relatively new type of vaccine dissimilar from other vaccines such as the flu shot. Whereas the flu vaccine contains a dead virus, an mRNA vaccine contains the copy of the virus’ gene.

Amid the darkness of this pandemic, Covid-19 vaccines add a glimmer of hope. Perhaps within the next few months, the Moderna vaccine will be approved for adolescents and life will return to some level of normalcy.