'I Am a Normal, Un-Brave Person.' And Patient 1133

Want a return to normal? Enroll in a vaccine trial, writes Molly Jong-Fast
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2020 11:37 AM CDT
I Enrolled in a Vaccine Trial, and You Should, Too
A volunteer receives an injection as part of a vaccine trial at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, on June 24.   (Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP)

"I am a normal, un-brave person. I am also a part of history now," writes Molly Jong-Fast, an editor-at-large for the Daily Beast and "Patient 1133" in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trial. In a New York Times op-ed, Jong-Fast describes the pride she felt (well, after the anxiety attack) at receiving the injection her smart, educated friends—including an "Ivy League-educated doctor"—wouldn't have gone near. "As someone who suffers from pretty significant anxiety about my health, I am, in theory, the last person who should ever do any medical trial at all." But "I lived through New York City in March and April. I saw the field hospital in Central Park. I watched in horror as refrigerator trucks were enlisted to handle morgue overflow," Jong-Fast writes. Somehow, that "made me the kind of person who enrolls in medical trials. There was something I could do to help stop all this."

The public distrust of a vaccine—just 21% of Americans said they would accept a free vaccine as soon as possible, according to a CBS News poll—only "strengthened my resolve," she writes. "I have never felt myself to have a calling but all of a sudden, I felt like a middle-aged Joan of Arc," she writes. "I knew I had to do my part to help create a safe vaccine." Jong-Fast received the first of two doses at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut on Sept. 8. Apart from a sore arm, "the main side effect has been the incredible sense of pride that I am now walking around with," she writes. She hopes others will be inspired to follow her lead. "Normal will come back a lot faster if Americans take the chance and stick their arms out for science," she writes. "Ask not what your country can do for you but what vaccine trial you can enroll in." (Read about her full experience here.)

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