AstraZeneca vaccine trial underway in NELA still searching for volunteers


WEST MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — The AstraZeneca vaccine trial in Monroe has been underway for a few months and as of Tuesday, December 8, 2020, more than 500 people from Northeast Louisiana are enrolled in the trial.

Officials say about 25% of those enrolled locally are African American and the remaining 75% are caucasian or another race.

If you’ve been on the fence about joining, there are only about 2 and a half weeks left to make a decision.

“What do you have to lose? We had minor side effects. I would do it again in a heartbeat if we had to do it all over again from the start. (I) wouldn’t even think twice about it,” said Tom Pearson, the director of the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo, who is also taking part in the trial.

The Pearson family joined the vaccine trial back in September. After the original shot, they had only minor symptoms but say that they haven’t had anymore since.

Tom, a former meteorologist, says that he is putting his trust in the science.

“As scientists, I guess we trust the science that it is not going to be politically oriented. It is not going to be any secret thing,” said Tom. “It’s going to be legit and it is going to be safe. We feel, as scientists, if it wasn’t safe they wouldn’t try and immunize people.”

His wife, Jennifer Pearson, is a local science teacher. She says not only is she protecting her students, but teaching them the importance of science.

“The vaccine is coming for everyone, but who knows when that will be. So if you can get the trial vaccine, you have a 2/3 chance that you are actually going to get the vaccine and only a 1/3 chance that you’re going to get the placebo,” said Jennifer.

The Pearson family encourages others to take a step of faith in science and be part of this public duty.

Tom says, “We feel like we are helping our community, the region, perhaps even the world. I don’t know if we really gave it that much thought when we heard about it. We were just like, ‘yeah let’s do it, why wouldn’t we help out?”

Officials at Clinical Trials of America say they would love to see more participants from the local Hispanic community. If you would like to join the trial, call 318-267-4111 or text COVIDNELA to 31996.

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