Two local Pfizer trial participants urge others to get COVID-19 vaccine when widely available

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Casey Rimland has spent her whole life around the world of science. Now, she and her husband Aaron Cohen are urging people to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes widely available.

"Just because it was faster doesn't mean that there's been any sacrifice for safety," said Rimland, who is now in her fourth year at the UNC School of Medicine and applying for residency.

She said in the spring she was shut out of rotations because of the pandemic. Feeling hopeless, Rimland decided she could give back in her own way by enrolling in a local Pfizer vaccine trial with her husband.

They're thrilled to see the U.S. government advisory panel endorse the widespread use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday. She says it's a huge step forward.

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Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration signs off, as expected, on the expert committee's recommendation.



"It's a testament to what we can do and accomplish when we put so much money and science research into accomplishing a singular goal," Casey said.

During the trial, participants are either given a placebo or a trial of the vaccine. Rimland believes she got a placebo while her husband got the actual vaccine.

After Cohen's second round, he had a fever of 100 and slight chills but it went away entirely after that. Rimland said she had no symptoms the second time -- not even a sore arm.

"I wanted to be able to help others," Aaron said. "To be able to have this vaccine come: I've told some people I'm really looking forward to hugging my parents again."

Should the Food and Drug Administration sign off on the expert committee's recommendation, the first 85,800 doses of the vaccine should arrive in North Carolina next week.

Duke University Hospital, UNC Medical Center, WakeMed Raleigh, Rex Hospital and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center will get more than 2,900 doses of the vaccine.

The doses count for just one round of the vaccine.

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