Utahns describe COVID-19 vaccines symptoms, feel confident it’s safe

Nov 30, 2020, 6:27 AM | Updated: Dec 1, 2020, 8:05 am

EDITORIAL NOTE: ‘Utahns describe COVID-19 vaccines symptoms, feel confident it’s safe’ is the first  part of our four-part series, ‘The Vaccines: Hope on the Horizon.’ Each day, KSL will break down a different aspect of COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. Listen to Utah’s Morning News at 7:45 a.m. and to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News at 4:45 p.m. every day this week for the latest. 

SALT LAKE CITY — The recent number of new daily COVID-19 cases may have dipped, slightly, but health officials are expecting that number to climb back up because of Thanksgiving gatherings.  We’re inching closer to a vaccine, and Utahns were part of the trials for those COVID-19 vaccines. 

Signing up for vaccine research

The prospect of being one of the first people to ever get a COVID-19 vaccine before its approval can be intimidating. Test subject Steve Nunez says he had plenty of concerns when he signed up for the test study.  Still, he felt compelled.

“I just wanted to help out. There are so many people I’ve lost,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of seriously close people and even family due to the fact that COVID happened.” 

He was especially rocked by the death of his sister, April, who lived in Provo.

“She ended up getting pneumonia from it and died from that,” he said.

He took the trial vaccine in California, and even though they never tell the subjects if they got the real vaccine or a placebo, he’s certain he got the real thing based on how his body reacted.

“I don’t think I’m allergic to saline,” he added.

COVID-19 vaccines: symptoms to be expected

After getting the first injection, Nunez said his arm was weak for a few days, and he had a headache, but not one strong enough to take anything for it. He was also very tired, but still kept his appetite. After the second injection, he had the chills. His husband, on the other hand, also took part in the trial and likely got the placebo, because he didn’t feel a thing.

“He had zero. Nothing. Not even a sore arm,” Nunez said. “They had already said you have to feel something if you got the vaccine.”

Nunez was part of the Pfizer trial, but Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, received the Moderna vaccine.  He’s also certain he didn’t get a placebo. He took an antibody test after the injections, and if you get a reading of 1.1, that means you had COVID-19.

“My reading came in at 8.0,” he said.

Inspired by voters

Eliason says he was inspired to take part after talking with people on the campaign trail.  COVID-19 was their biggest concern, and he believes a vaccine is really our only way out.

“I studied about the trials and I know they needed people to participate, and I thought, ‘You know what, that’s something I can do to help out,’ so I signed up,” said Eliason.

He understands people will have a lot of questions about COVID-19 vaccines and how safe they are.  So, he says people should research if anyone has had any adverse reaction before they decide to take it.

“Could there be risks with the vaccine?  Sure.  Have they tested these vaccines that they’ll be distributing very thoroughly?  Yes,” Eliason said.

This is the first part of our four-part series ‘‘The Vaccines: Hope on the Horizon.’ You can read part two Are the Covid-19 vaccines safe?’ by clicking here.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States


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Utahns describe COVID-19 vaccines symptoms, feel confident it’s safe