Cook Children’s nurse practitioner volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trial

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is set to be reviewed by the FDA this week while Moderna’s vaccine will be reviewed next week.

Texas is anticipating the first round of vaccines to be delivered next week and will distribute thousands of doses to hospitals, including several in North Texas.

More than 30,000 participants volunteered to be a part of Moderna’s phase three trial. The company has said the vaccine is more than 94% effective, but it’s still unknown how long after getting the vaccine people are protected.

Nurse practitioner Christi Thornhill is one of 30,000 participants who signed up to be part of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trial. She got her first injection in September and her second about four weeks later in October.

“I knew that for us to be able to get this vaccine and try to get some sense of normalcy back in this world, we had to have participants. I knew it was the right thing to do,” she said.

Thornhill doesn’t know if she got the placebo or the vaccine, but she says participants will be notified once the Moderna emergency use authorization is approved so those who got the placebo can get vaccinated.

The state says Cook Children’s Hospital, where Thornhill works, will be getting more than 4,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as soon as it arrives next week following emergency approval. More than 2,000 of those doses will be redirected to JPS Hospital so frontline workers at both facilities can get vaccinated.

“In my departments, most all of them can’t wait to get the vaccine,” Thornhill said. “There are still some that are wanting to wait a little bit and see how this goes, but the vast majority I’m around are ready to take a vaccine.”

Thornhill did feel mild symptoms following both doses. She had a headache after her first dose and slightly elevated symptoms with her second dose.

“Within about three hours of the injection, I really just felt fatigued, had a headache, really sleepy, body aches, started running a little bit of a low-grade fever. It never went above 99.9,” she said.

But Thornhill says that’s normal as the body starts to build an immune response.

It’s still unclear how long that immune response will last. Thornhill says she’ll go back for another checkup in march for a blood draw where researchers will check for antibodies. But early results from both drug companies are promising as they report more than 90% effective rates.

“That’s part of this trial and seeing how long it lasts and how everybody responds,” Thornhill said. “And it may be that based on ages, younger people may have that antibody response for a long period of time than somebody who’s older who may need to get it more frequently.”

Pfizer’s vaccine FDA review for emergency use authorization is Thursday while Moderna’s review is the following Thursday.