4 Rochester volunteers first in the nation to receive Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine

New York News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Four Rochester residents were the first in the nation to receive the coronavirus vaccine Monday in the clinical trial’s third and final phase, local hospital officials announced Tuesday.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration gave approval for the trial to continue onto the third and final phase of clinical trials. University of Rochester Medical Center and Rochester Regional Health are working on the clinical trials developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

“Their specific results will not be known for quite a long time,” Edward Walsh, M.D., a professor in the URMC Department of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) said of the four who received the vaccine on Monday.

MORE | Pfizer, BioNTech reach agreement with U.S. for up to 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Walsh said those four individuals range from ages 26 through age 74 and have a variety of occupations — one including a teacher. “As a group we will determine the efficacy of the vaccine.” Additional seven volunteers were given the vaccine on Tuesday and there will be four more by the end of the day, according to the doctors.

Phase three marks the final stage of vaccine development prior to FDA approval, mass production, and distribution.  A total of 30,000 volunteers will be recruited at more than 120 sites across the globe for the study, including up to 200 in Rochester. 

“It’s helpful for some people to feel like they have control and move the science along,” Dr. Ann R. Falsey, M.D., co-director of the URMC Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit and a member of the Infectious Disease Unit at Rochester General Hospital said.

“This is their way to give back and get everybody out of their houses sooner rather than later.”

MORE | COVID-19 vaccine: Rochester is 1 of 4 US sites to begin clinical trials

According to URMC, the randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial will recruit individuals in the Rochester area ages 18 to 85 with a focus on individuals who are at high risk for coronavirus infection, such as health care workers, first responders, teachers, and people who work in restaurants or retail.  Officials said researchers will work with community partners to invite Black and Latinx families to participate in vaccine trials, which will help to address the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on people of color.

“Now we are specifically looking at folks who are at high risk by virtue of their circumstance by occupations,” Falsey said. “It’s a slightly different recruiting strategy so anybody who is interested is welcomed.”

Officials said researchers will work with community partners to invite Black and Latinx families to participate in vaccine trials, which will help to address the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on people of color.

Individuals interested in learning more about volunteering for the study should call 585-276-5212 or visit covidresearch.urmc.edu.


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