As of this writing, no vaccine exists for COVID-19. However, private researchers, universities, and government agencies are working at lightning speed to change this. Thanks to Operation Warp Speed (OWS), we currently have COVID-19 clinical trials underway in different parts of the country. And, according to Dr. Fauci — the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) — we may have a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as early 2021. This is an unprecedented time-line for the vaccine industry.
Vaccines generally take three to five years (and millions of dollars) in the development phase before they’re ready for distribution.
While a vaccine would be welcome news, we must consider the effects of any potential vaccine on COVID-19’s highest risk group — seniors.
Any Vaccine Has a Potential For Side Effects
Per the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), every vaccine can cause potential side effects. However, these effects are usually mild and subside within a few days.
Generally, common vaccine side effects include:
- A mild fever
- Feelings of malaise
As home health care professionals, we can easily see how a headache and mild fever can cause an older adult to take an extra nap or perhaps, miss a meal.
Occasionally — and this is where we have the deepest concern for New York seniors — even a routine flu shot can have hazardous side effects. While such situations are scarce (perhaps for one in two million doses), we must still keep a close eye on our seniors after a routine vaccination.
In this light, Operation Warp Speed remains a special focus for us. We know that any potential COVID-19 vaccine must be thoroughly and explicitly tested on seniors. Even a mild reaction can have cascading effects on a senior’s overall wellbeing.
The good news is that we already know a thing or two about coronavirus vaccines.
Vaccines Already Exist for Other Coronavirus Strains
In 2020, we are fortunate to have a thorough understanding of the human immune response. COVID-19 is a “novel” coronavirus. Our bodies have never dealt with this exact strain before. However, experts maintain that the knowledge gained from the development of previous coronavirus vaccines may prove invaluable.
Clinical Trials for COVID-19 Vaccines Enrolling Older Adults
According to the National Institutes of Health, a Phase 3 clinical trial — which tests the preventative ability of a vaccine candidate in adults — has begun. The potential vaccine, called mRNA-1273, was co-developed by the Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna and NIAID. Altogether, the trial is expected to enroll about 30,000 adult volunteers.
Traditionally, older individuals have been excluded from clinical testing for vaccines. Specifically, health issues like dementia may complicate research protocols. Plus, seniors face the highest risk of complications from COVID-19. However, researchers have made monumental efforts to increase senior participation in the newest round of clinical trials.
Essentially, vaccine development is a three-phase process.
- In Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine.
- During Phase II, the vaccine is given to those with characteristics (such as age and health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended.
- Then, in Phase III, the vaccine is further tested for safety and effectiveness.
Presently, adults in New York state, Seattle, and Atlanta can participate in vaccine testing. As an agency focused on senior care, we suggest that you talk to your primary physician before participating in clinical trials.
How to Enroll in COVID-19 Vaccine Testing
At the time of writing, Moderna is hosting clinical trials at 89 locations in New York state. You can learn more about mRNA-1273 trials at ClinicalTrials.gov.
For other clinical trial information, visit the NIAID website:
- Bethesda area seniors can email VRCCOVIDtrials@nih.gov for enrollment information.
- Atlanta area seniors can contact email@example.com / 404-712-1371 or firstname.lastname@example.org / 404-727-4044.
- Seattle seniors (age 71 and older) can email email@example.com.
David York Understands the Importance of Enrolling Seniors in COVID-19 Trials
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If you’d like more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
David York Agency Home Healthcare remains committed to providing personalized care for your loved one. If you have questions about our services, please contact us. We can help you through the difficult times and give you the break you deserve!
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