CALABASAS (CBSLA) — Monday was a big day for Las Virgenes Unified Superintendent Dan Stepenosky.
Not only was his district the first in Los Angeles County to welcome students back to campus, but he was basking in the news that the COVID-19 vaccine trial he is taking part in appeared to be a success.
“I just wanted to be part of the solution and help move this forward and break the grip of coronavirus on us,” he said. “I wanted our kids back in school.”
Stepenosky, who had colon cancer four years ago, did not think he would be accepted into the trial. But, after two phone screenings and an in-person physical, the Calabasas resident was accepted.
He received a series of two shots — one in August and another three weeks later.
“I think I had a little muscle soreness, but not a lot really,” he said.
Some of his family members had some reservations, but he did not.
“We trust science,” Stepenosky said. “I trust doctors. I was a physics major.”
But he did have concerns with the trial doctors asked him if his 16-year-old daughter would sign up too.
“They don’t want you to be in the trial if you, you know, stay home all the time,” Stepenosky said. “They ask, ‘Do you go to the market, do you go to the office?’ Well for kids, 16 and 17, they don’t have an office to go to, so really the only ones they can try are kids involved in sports.”
And, being captain of her high school basketball team, Stepenosky’s daughter Kearston fit that description.
“My family has been incredibly lucky during this time, like we’re all safe and we’re all healthy, and so I think that puts me in a position to have the ability to help in the small way that I can, and I therefore should,” she said.
But, unlike her dad, Kearston did experience some uncomfortable side effects in the hours after getting the first shot.
“I didn’t have a fever, which was good,” she said. “But I had some body aches and headaches and everything.”
She said the symptoms subsided after a few days, and she is scheduled to get the second shot in a few days.
Neither of the Stepenoskys know if they received a placebo or the actual vaccine, but they will continue to perform weekly health check-ins on a phone applications and will continue to see doctors for follow-ups until the trial ends in two years.
Now, she and her dad do weekly check-ins on a phone application and will have to continue to see doctors until the trial ends in two years.