By Ella Whithaus and Cristela Vargas-Delgado
With the return to in-person school on the horizon, many members of the Riverside community are becoming eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Sophomore Katherine Patillo is part of the reason why.
Patillo is in a study on the effects of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 10-18. This is not her first time participating in a study – she has been in three before, hearing about them through her mother.
“My mom works at Duke and she used to be the associate director of Clinical Research, which is who Pfizer is running [the vaccine trial] through,” said Patillo.
“I’ve had four visits,” she said. “On my first visit, they drew my blood, swabbed me for the flu, and made me take a pregnancy test.”
Patillo, like the staff members administering her shots, does not know if she got the vaccine or a placebo. She has an app on her phone to track her symptoms each week.
“I had a headache and my arm hurt for 3-4 days, but it wasn’t where I couldn’t function,” she said. “The second dose was actually worse than the first. I threw up after the second dose.”
Patillo is participating in the study because she wants to do her part to slow the spread of the virus and keep her community safe.
“It can help people get vaccines that might be susceptible to dying from covid,” said Patillo.
She understands that other people are scared to be in a vaccine trial because of the possible symptoms, but it does not worry her.
“I don’t really care because death is not a symptom. I had to sign a contract and the worst symptoms were sickness,” she said.
Around the beginning of March, the next group of the vaccine roll out -teachers- were allowed to get the vaccine. Many Riverside teachers have begun getting the vaccine.
Science teacher Nicole Branton received her first dose a few weeks ago.
“I feel normal,” she said. “Sadly I didn’t get any superpowers. [I’m] still hoping I get them after the second dose.”
Branton got the vaccine because she wants to feel safe going outside of her home.
“But [I] realize that even though I have taken the vaccine, I can still spread it so I will still take all preventive measures to keep everyone safe,” she said.
Spanish teacher Ana Kistler went downtown to the Durham Health Clinic after signing up for an appointment online, but initially got turned away because they ran out of doses for the day. She came back a few days later and was given the first dose of the vaccine.
“I took the vaccine because I fear getting sick [and] I do not want to spread the virus to others. Also, I trust the scientists,” she said. “I feel more hopeful about seeing an end to the pandemic.”