LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Many are looking for signs of home in the battle against COVID-19, and a local man is doing his part as a member of an ongoing vaccine trial.
“This is an historic occasion for the nation, for the county of Los Angeles and particularly for the Lundquist Institute,” Dr. David Meyer, president and chief executive of the institute, said.
Jorge Vega, a Long Beach resident, became the first person to get vaccinated in the third phase of a research study on a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
“I’m very excited to be the fist patient in L.A. to get the vaccine,” he said. “And I’m doing this for me and for my community. Hopefully this is going to lead to a cure.”
The 62-year-old works as a server at the Long Beach Convention Center and said he has seen a lot of friends die after contracting the virus.
“I want a cure for this,” he said. “We have to stop it somehow, and this is a step to do it.”
Vega said the vaccine was similar to getting a flu shot.
“The vaccine has been looked at in some early trials, and so far it appears to be very well tolerated, seems to induce antibodies, which we were hoping for,” Dr. Eric Daar, lead investigator for the trial, said. “But now this is the big Phase 3 trial, 30,000 people will be enrolled to demonstrate just how safe it truly is and whether it actually protects people from becoming ill.”
Daar said the institute was still looking for additional volunteers to take part in the trial program that’s being run in partnership with the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles, and stressed that volunteers would not get the virus from the injection.
“You can not get COVID from this vaccine,” he said. “It’s simply not part of what we’re injecting people with, so that shouldn’t be a concern for people.”
Vega and the other volunteers in the trial will be followed for the next two years, allowing doctors to gather important safety information about the vaccine.
Those interested in learning more about the trial or volunteering can do so online.