Cary couple takes part in Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine trial

Wake County News

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) — A Cary couple is celebrating the authorization of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after taking part in a clinical trial testing the shot.

Kimberly and Donald Parsons aren’t the type to just sit back and watch a crisis unfold.

“Seeing the pandemic going out of control I wanted to do something,” explained Kimberly Parsons.

They decided to take part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.

“We signed up for whatever was available, and we just took the first one that came across which happened to be Johnson & Johnson,” said Donald Parsons.

Wake Research is conducting the trial.

Each of the Parsons received a shot, not knowing if it was real or a placebo.

“Probably within an hour I felt a little tired, but I thought maybe it was just the adrenaline,” recalled Kimberly Parsons. “That night my arm started to hurt.”

Donald said he had no symptoms, “No sore arm, nothing whatsoever.” 

 “He suspected I had the real one,” said Kimberly Parsons. “I didn’t because my arm is usually sore after an injection, and I didn’t feel really any side effects.”

Assuming they’d both gotten placebos, and with their age raising their risk for COVID-19 complications, Kimberly Parsons eventually called the researcher running the trial to see if they should get one of the authorized vaccines.

She learned she’d received the actual Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while her husband had received a placebo.

Donald Parsons signed up for a different vaccine while his wife watched anxiously to see if the FDA would authorize the Johnson & Johnson shot she received. She was relieved when the FDA gave it the nod. 

“I’m ecstatic over it and I just feel so happy that I was part of the trial,” she said. 

Although they’ve had two different vaccines, the Parsons both feel safe.

“One hundred percent no hospitalizations no deaths, it’s just fantastic,” Donald Parsons said, noting statistics from the Johnson & Johnson trial. “I am very comfortable that she and I are both protected.”

They hope having a third vaccine available will allow more people to get shots, and eventually get back to normal. The Parsons can’t wait to meet their granddaughter who was born during the pandemic. 

Both are still part of the Johnson & Johnson study. They say researchers are monitoring their antibody levels every couple of months, and since Donald Parsons received the Pfizer vaccine, researchers will be able to compare the levels.   

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