The first Michigan volunteers have stepped forward to receive an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.   Moderna has begun it’s phase 3 trial and Henry Ford Health System is one of 90 sites nationwide to take part in this study.   While the first volunteers from SouthEast Michigan are excited to take part, many more participants are needed as Moderna aims to enroll a total of 30,000 people. 

I am super excited about this study and that Michiganders are able to participate. Now for those of you who might be interested, here’s how this works.  Study participants will have a 50% chance of getting the vaccine via two separate shots that are 28 days apart.  The other 50% will receive placebo shots that contain a sterile saline solution.  Now you won’t know which one you get injected with, and neither will the study team know because this is a randomized double-blind study.  Which is considered the “Gold Standard”.  Now the study will last 25 months and include roughly 7 clinic visits and 24 phone calls.  And those who complete the study will receive $1000.

Can the vaccine cause infection or disease?  Is it possible to get COVID-19 from this potential vaccine?

I get the concern because many vaccines are made from inactive or weakened viruses.  But this one is not.  It’s actually made from messenger ribonucleic acid, otherwise known as mRNA.  It’s actually a genetic code that instructs human cells to make proteins that help to produce antibodies.  So this vaccine cannot cause infection or disease because it does not contain any live or killed virus in it.  Having said that, there is no guarantee that participants won’t get the virus at all.  It’s possible they could still get it from infected people despite getting the vaccine.  That’s why this is a trial.  To see just how safe and effective this vaccine really is.

For those who are interested in volunteering, are there any restrictions – who qualifies and who does not? 

Yes, volunteers must meet the study’s criteria.  Here are some of the qualifications:

  • You must be 18 or older and
  • Live or work in southeast Michigan
  • You must be a healthy adult and free of illnesses
  • You must not be pregnant or immune-compromised
  • And you must not have already have had COVID-19

The study would also really like to enroll:

  • People who are at high risk of exposure due to work or other circumstances
  • Seniors aged 65 and older, and
  • Adults with “pre-existing medical conditions that are stable at the time of screening.”

If you are interested and want to sign up or learn more, then please go to www.henryford.com/ModernaVaccine.