World’s First Recipient of Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Opens Up: 'Carried a Ton of Risk'

April 13, 2020

The world’s first recipient of an experimental coronavirus vaccine is opening up about the test, a trial that she says “carried a ton of risks,” according to a report.

Jennifer Haller, a 44-year-old Seattle mother of two, spoke to the Telegraph about why she responded to the Facebook call-out for volunteers looking for participants in the historic COVID-19 trial.

“Even at that time we were all feeling so helpless,” Haller told the UK news outlet during self-isolation. “There was nothing I could do to stop this global pandemic. Then I saw this opportunity come up and thought: ‘Well, maybe there is something I can do to contribute.’”

Haller, an operations manager at a tech startup, said she saw the vaccine trial as an opportunity to be proactive in the fight against the pandemic that has spread all over the world.

“It gave me some sense of control,” she said. “We’re all so out of control and helpless. This just gave me something that I could hold on to that could be helpful.”

While Haller dutifully participated in various tests for the trial, her friends and family showed great concern.

She tried to relieve their worry, informing them that she would not receive the actual virus as part of the vaccine, which exhibited promising results after tests on animals.

However, Haller was the first human recipient.

As part of the trial, administered by Seattle’s Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, participating test subjects would receive two doses of the experimental vaccine — called mRNA-1273 — 28 days apart, followed by a year of monitoring.

Despite the uncertainties of the vaccine, Hallerr remains optimistic.

“There were a ton of risks involved,” Haller said. “But I’m a real positive person and the benefits of this far outweighed any risks in my mind.”

One of the most unexpected results of her participation? Press coverage.

Haller says she discovered that she was the world’s first recipient of mRNA-1273 when she showed for the test on March 16 — and saw in attendance the Associated Press, who had been invited to the study’s launch.

Haller was surprised when she saw footage of herself receiving the shot in her arm from an administrator donning a face mask and blue gloves in an ad celebrating President’s Trump leadership in response to COVID-19.

But for her son Hayden, 16, and daughter Ellison, 13, her novel viral fame was pretty cool.

“They would report back to me how many TikTok views I would have and what’s on Reddit. They think it’s hilarious,” she said.

As for the actual symptoms of the vaccine? Not too bad!

“The first day I had a slightly elevated temperature,” she said. “The second day my arm was pretty sore. But that was it — everything was all right after that. It was as easy as a regular flu shot.”

Although Haller is the first recipient, she will be joined by 44 other adults for the study. She is slated to receive her second dose next week, before a year of monitoring that will conclude in spring 2021.

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