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Murray Journal

Murray teen takes part in promising COVID-19 vaccine trial

Nov 30, 2020 03:04PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Pre-COVID, Relena Pattison participated on the Murray High color guard team; now, she is a volunteer in a promising vaccine trial. (Photo courtesy Relena Pattison)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Hope for a COVID-19 vaccine was announced Nov. 9, and one Murray High School student is part of the potential clinical trials. Murray teenager Relena Pattison was a test subject in the pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s vaccine study, which was announced as 90% effective in clinical trials.

Clinical trials have generally focused on recruiting adult subjects; however, researchers have opened the study to all ages in a race to provide the critically needed vaccine.

Pattison volunteered to take part in the phase 3 clinical trial. Phase 3 is the final trial before seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration for practical usage. This phase is typically handled in hospitals and doctors’ offices across the county, which is how she got involved.

“We originally heard of the study through one of our family friends. At the time, they were only looking for adults,” Pattison said. “After a few months, however, they had opened the study up to 16- and 17-year-olds. My mom received a call informing her she was on the waiting list, and they mentioned they had begun looking for teenagers, so I reached out to some of my friends, and we signed up.”

As part of the process, patients are watched closely for side effects, and treatment is stopped if they’re too hard to manage. 

“I have received the original vaccine and the booster, and I am now only in the blood-draw portion of the trial,” Pattison said.

As of the first week of November, there have been over 50.7 million COVID cases, with 1.3 million deaths worldwide since the virus was detected in November of last year. In deaths alone, the United States has reported over 240,000 COVID-related death, and nearly 700 in Utah. 

“I think the biggest reason that I decided to join the trial was that I wanted to help,” Pattison said. “By wearing masks, washing our hands, and social distancing, we can all do our part to help stop the spread, but I wanted to do even more. Although I can’t help in the labs trying to create an effective vaccine, I still think it’s important to do all I can.”

Being part of the process has been rewarding for the math and biology-loving student since she aspires to be an anesthesiologist. Besides participating in the STEM and Health Occupations Students of America clubs, Pattison rounds herself out by being co-captain of Murray High’s color guard team and is an ambassador for the Girl Scouts of America. 

“It’s been very fun to learn about what exactly they are testing for and the requirements that need to be met to get accurate results,” Pattison said.

Like all Murray students, Pattison’s world was rocked back in March when the school district switched to online learning and shut down extracurricular activities. 

“Besides losing school time and taking AP tests online, I was exposed to COVID back in June,” Pattison said. “Although I didn’t test positive, I and a few others had to self-quarantine for a few weeks, just in case, to keep our loved ones safe. Honestly, it was pretty rough being stuck in my room for 14 days, but it was definitely worth it.”

Pattison is not the only student involved in the study; there are some volunteers at Cottonwood and Murray High School in various COVID vaccine studies. Currently, there are 11 different vaccines in phase 3 trials across the globe. 

As part of Operation Warp Speed, the federal government has promised billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine in an accelerated time frame. The government hopes to manufacture 100 million doses of a COVID -19 vaccine as soon as it is approved. 

According to Pattison, “I have very few fears about the vaccine itself; I have received the vaccine and had little issues. My concerns are more about people not getting the vaccine. It’s very important to vaccinate to create herd immunity and keep people important to us safe.”