‘I was advancing the science’: Twinsburg teens reflect on Pfizer vaccine trials

Coronavirus

TWINSBURG, Ohio (WJW)– Brighton Stoddard Dare and Elisa Unangst share a unique experience. The two Twinsburg teens were part of a more than 2,000 participant clinical trial that allowed the Pfizer vaccine to be approved for kids aged 12 to 15.

“After I realized it was going to help kids my age be safe, get the vaccine, I was totally in,” Elisa said.

Brighton’s mom, Patty, saw Sender’s Pediatrics in South Euclid was conducting the COVID-19 vaccine trial and ended up enrolling more than 170 of the participants.

Now, 13-year-old Brighton said there were nerves at first, but the process was painless.

“I didn’t even know that they put the shot in me, I thought it was their finger.”

He and 15-year-old Elisa had to get regular nose swabs and blood tests. 

“The nurses were super nice, they walked you through everything,” Elisa said.

Both had side effects.

“The second shot, I threw up in the middle of the night and I got chills,” Brighton said.

“I think it was the second shot, my arm got red and hot,” Brighton said.

But neither knew if they had the real vaccine.

“I’m just like, OK, so it’s 50-50 shot and if I get it, I’m protected, but if I don’t, I’ll be the first to get it when it’s out,” Brighton said.

On May 13, Brighton found out he had been protected and Elisa had been given the placebo. 

“I also knew that I was advancing the science and getting kids my age vaccinated, and that’s pretty much all that matters to me,” she said.

Four other teens in the area in both middle and high school were also part of the study.

“I’m so proud of these kids because they really did take a risk. I mean, now we know that it was safe and effective actually in that age group. We thought it probably was previously, but now we know that and they were willing to take that risk,” Patty said.

Brighton said he would do it again.

“It’s just helping the community and someone has to do it so everyone can get it.”

“If you’re eligible to get the vaccine, totally get it because it’s something that you can do to not only help yourself but help the people around you,” Elisa said.

Senders Pediatrics will be participating in the Pfizer vaccine trial for those 5 to 11. It said that should begin in the next few weeks.

Elisa is now on her way to becoming fully vaccinated.

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