DENVER — Stepping into the unknown takes a profound sense of courage. During the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are a lot of unknowns, particularly when it comes to a vaccine.
Across the country and around the world, there are dozens of vaccine trials underway as researchers race to find an end to the pandemic.
In the U.S., two of those vaccine trials are showing early promising results. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials are showing an above 90% efficacy rate.
In Colorado, roughly 270 volunteers signed up for the Moderna vaccine trial through UCHealth, including Michael Rouse.
“There was a call out for minorities, especially African-Americans, and I felt it was time that we stepped up so I volunteered,” Rouse said. “It wasn’t a tough decision at all. I have faith in science. I have faith in medicine.”
Rouse is a 66-year-old retiree who says he understands the hesitancy people of color have, but he believes it’s important for them to be involved in this vaccine trial to prove it’s safe.
“Without people stepping up, we’re never going to find a solution,” Rouse said. “Our participation is what’s going to help save millions of lives.”
Rouse said he received his first COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 17 and his second shot a month later. He didn’t feel any initial pain or soreness from the injection.
However, several hours afterward he did feel aches, nausea, a headache and a sour stomach that lasted for roughly 12 hours the first time and 24 hours the second time. Because of these side effects, Rouse is convinced he received the real vaccine and not a placebo.
Now, he checks in about once a week using a mobile app on his phone to answer questions about his experience.
“We have to do something to stop this because it’s getting out of control and like any vaccine, there is going to be some symptoms or some side effects, but we need this vaccine because this pandemic is just getting worse. The virus itself is not going to just disappear,” Rouse said. “I definitely think it’s going to be a defining moment in the world and those of us who can help find a solution should be proud of the fact that we helped find a solution to this defining moment.”
Despite this, Rouse said he is still being cautious, wearing a mask in public, social distancing and staying home whenever possible.
“I’m living as if I didn’t get the shot but I’m not afraid to go out and do things,” Rouse said.
In an effort to educate the public about his experience and reassure them that the vaccine is safe, Rouse recently wrote a guest commentary talking about his experience with the vaccine.
He hopes that once a vaccine does come out, his experience and that of the hundreds of other volunteers will encourage people to get it.
"I think it’s so important that we get positive news out about the vaccine. Right now, many Americans are a little reluctant to take it until more of us who are involved in the phase 3 testing can speak up and say, 'Hey this is not horrible, it’s not gonna kill you and when it’s available, you need to take it,'" Rouse said.