Raleigh man talks experience in Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine trial

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A local 32-year-old life coach was a Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial participant.

Trial participant Joe Belanger has a meteorology degree from NC State and even interned with ABC11's Chris Hohmann. Belanger said he knows the value of the belief in science to stop the spread of COVID-19.

FDA advisers sign off on Johnson & Johnson vaccine: Here's what happens next

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was issued an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA Saturday. And just a day later, Wake County announced it could possibly receive 5,200 doses in the same week.
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County health officials are already working with various communities to distribute doses once they arrive.

"I get my flu shot every year, and this was super similar to the flu shot. Very, very familiar," said Belanger. "The one dose was familiar, in that sense. Seems like the effective rate is similar to the flu shot, which is very exciting."

Many are anticipating the Johnson &Johnson vaccine due to the single-dose nature and less restrictive storage.
"It's a nice counter to the scary "what ifs." And to see the numbers go down and vaccinations go up, it finally feels like we have hope as opposed to last year, when we were just stuck in this holding pattern," said Belanger.

Belanger said he and the other volunteers had a blind clinical trial for the vaccine in November. They were not told if they got a placebo shot or the actual vaccine. He believes more testing is likely.

"I know Johnson & Johnson did start a two dose study to compare the single to the double. I don't know if they're still accepting but I know it started after me, because one of my friends joined that one," said Belanger.
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