A Rancho Penasquitos husband and wife are two of at least 600 San Diego county residents who took part in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine trial.
On Thursday, an FDA panel recommended approving the Pfizer vaccine for emergency distribution.
“Fifty percent of the people got placebos, 50 percent of the people got the vaccine, and you don’t know either way,” said Rich Schwartz. "We still don’t know."
Schwartz, 61, said that four months into the pandemic, he saw an online advertisement that Pfizer was looking for COVID-19 vaccine-trial participants.
“We thought it would be a heck of a way to help out,” Schwartz said.
After seeing how safe the process was, and noting that there were several doctors overseeing the local trial, Schwartz convinced his wife, Diana, to take part as well.
In July, the Schwartzes were given the first of two doses. The couple was told to report any symptoms and update their condition on a weekly basis via a phone app. Three weeks later, they were giving a second dose. It's after the second dose that many national trial participants had reported mild to severe reactions.
Diane Schwartz, 61, who stopped working due to the pandemic, experienced symptoms after the second dose.
“That night after I had the shot, I got a little nausea, my stomach just didn’t feel quite right," Diane said. "I thought, 'This is weird,' then I started getting a headache, but within an hour, both of them were fine.”
Diane said she never had a fever or cough, and though she got a little sleepy, she said, she felt fine after several days.
Like thousands of others who have taken part in the trials worldwide, the Schwartzes have been anxiously awaiting Thursday's news about approval of the vaccine. They’re also curious to know if they, in fact, already received the vaccine that was approved.
“It would be very exciting to know, but just knowing we’re one step closer and there is an actual end in sight.... And I know everyone just wants to spend time with their families, and, not being able to travel, it’ll just feel like there actually is an end in sight,” Diane said.
And while there is excitement around the vaccine's approval for emergency use, Rich said there's still a long road ahead.
“We just got to stick to it, because these next couple of months still could be tough by the time everyone, people get vaccinated,” Rich said.
But the couple, who’ve been married for 36 years, said there’s a definite feeling of satisfaction.
“It feels good,” Diane said.
“But compared to the front-line workers -- the policemen, the doctors, the firemen -- we feel we’re not doing much,” Rich said.
Rich said the couple has been asked to return for antibody testing for the next two years, with planned visits after 6, 12 and 24 months.
Meanwhile, Rich said, Pfizer will soon be soliciting trial participants in the 12- to 17-year-old age group.