MEMPHIS, Tenn — As several COVID-19 vaccines inch closer to federal approval and mass distribution in the coming weeks, in the Mid-South Friday, local participants did their part in another vaccine trial now underway.
St. Jude and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center recently opened a site for Johnson & Johnson's Phase 3 trail of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
For one participant, it served a purpose beyond himself.
"At some point we've got to figure out what's best for the whole and not just individuals," Tony Milton, a vaccine participant, said.
He felt compelled to join the vaccine study in Memphis, as COVID-19 rages and surges locally and nationally.
"We went from one-thousand people dying a day to now 3,000 people dying a day," Milton said.
Those aren't just statistics for Milton.
His vaccine study participation is espeically personal, after losing a family member to the virus in recent days.
"When all of this hits so close to home, that was the catalyst for me," Milton said.
Friday, Milton received his one dose as part of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 Phase 3 trial, taking place outside the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital campus.
"Two or three doctors came in, they put me at ease, you know, I did it," Milton said.
Johnson & Johnson hopes to eventually get 60,000 adult trial participants worldwide, especially those such as Milton, who are above the age of 60 and with some underlying conditions.
"As is true trial wide and especially true at our site, we make every effort to follow all of the protocolized measures such that it is done in a safe fashion," Dr. Aditya Gaur with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital said.
Those at St. Jude and UTHSC hope to eventually recruit 500 volunteers in the Memphis area to take part in the COVID-19 vaccine trial.
If you are interested, go to: https://www.stjude.org/research/clinical-trials/covid19-vaccine-ensemble.html