Why I chose to be a guinea pig, and how it went


I got the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus trial vaccine last Friday.

If you’re like my Facebook friends, you’re probably saying, “Wow, you’re very brave!”

I am pretty brave for an old lady, actually, but that’s not why I participated in the vaccine trial. The rest of you are actually much braver, considering one out of every 17 people on the Navajo Nation has or had COVID-19 (that we know of, with more cases reported every day), and the death rate, at 5.5 percent, is much higher than that of the nation as a whole.

I now have a 50-50 chance of being protected from the virus (depending on whether I got a placebo or the actual vaccine), and of the 34,000 people who have taken it so far, only minor side effects have been reported, which is not true of the actual virus.

There are, of course, some good reasons not to participate in the vaccine trial that’s now going on all over the world, including the Navajo Nation.

The messenger RNA technology the vaccine uses is pretty new, and though on paper it’s much safer than using a killed or live virus and has been tried in animals since 1990, this is the first large-scale human trial.

My sister, a physician, noted that drug side effects sometimes pop up “years down the road” and urged me not to participate. But at 61, the road behind me is much longer than the road ahead, and I’m willing to take that risk.

Read more