A person flips a coin with a band aid on their arm.

A Shot of Hope

When I was a kid, whenever times felt difficult, I often turned to my childhood hero Superman. When I didn't feel like I fit in with other kids, him being an alien made him relatable.

It has been the symbol on his suit that reminded me of what we all must hold onto during the most difficult times. For those who don’t know, that “S” on his suit is the symbol of hope in the mythology of the comic books.

COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

On Friday, December 18th, I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. But, my journey with the vaccine didn’t start there.

I want to acknowledge that I understand it is a privilege to not only have access to vaccines but it is also a privilege to have trust in the science and vaccines.

Historically, Black and Brown folks in this country have faced mistreatment and experimentation by the science and medical field that is abhorrent, unacceptable, and must never be allowed to happen to any human ever again.

I work full-time in a healthcare center. While I have spent much of the last year working remotely, I took as many shifts screening patients for COVID-19 as I could because getting out of the house and in the office interacting with patients became a real highlight with what we have been living through.

Reasons why I never participated before

At work we regularly participate in clinical trials for HIV medications, I have never participated for two reasons.

First, I don’t necessarily want to be a patient at my place of employment because I like to keep my personal and professional life separate where I can. Also, I have had great luck with my HIV treatment and don’t want to fix what isn’t broken.

However, when I was approached by our team about being part of the clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine, I decided to take a chance on hope.

A double-blinded study

This was a double-blinded study, meaning that the team and I wouldn’t know if I was given the vaccine or a placebo. I did my research; I read about the studies that were available for the clinical trial (I know: nerd.)

As a person living with and working in HIV, I have become an avid reader of studies because I want to be an educated member of my own healthcare team. I want to be able to make informed decisions about my health. I joined the study, received both doses, and had no reactions.

What were the side effects like?

When it was made known to our staff that we would have vaccines available a short time after I had my second trial visit, I was offered to be unblinded so I would know and I could take the available vaccine if I had been given a placebo. So, I could get the real deal.

It turns out that I was given a placebo. So on that Friday, I gratefully walked into work to get the first vaccine dose. After both of my doses, I didn’t experience any side effects other than a sore shoulder and something that felt missing for much of last year: a shot of hope.

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