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Depew man discusses his experience in vaccine booster trial

Pfizer Vaccine
Posted at 11:39 PM, Apr 07, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Researchers are closely watching COVID-19 variants. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson booster shot trials are all happening right now, experts say.

Sam Rotella of Depew jumped at the chance to participate in a Pfizer booster trial when he received a call from Rochester Clinical Research last week.

“If you’re looking at a booster, it’s gotta be for a good reason sure, let’s do it,” Rotella said.

It began in August. Rotella answered a Facebook ad looking for volunteers for a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial at Rochester Clinical Research. He said he like the 50% chance at getting the vaccine early, but his wife is a nurse, so he also wanted a chance to give back.

“When I saw this opportunity, I was like hey here’s my chance I can give back something to the public, and do something for the greater good," he said. "I’m a firm believer in science, I mean I wouldn’t be an engineer if I wasn’t, so you know when science is saying, hey we got a good shot at doing this, ok sign me up.”

Rotella was fully vaccinated in September, and received his booster last week.

“That next day, I did not feel good, that afternoon was second shot symptoms all over again,” Rotella said.

He said after a nap he was back to reffing hockey.

Next month he finds out if he gets a second booster dose. He said half the trial participants receive a third dose of the current Pfizer shot, and the other half receive a shot designed for variants, with half that group getting a second dose.

Dr. Thomas Russo, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Buffalo, said there are two reasons boosters could be needed; if the vaccine wears off over time, or it's not effective at preventing sickness and hospitalization from variants.

“The good news is with these new RNA vaccine and DNA vaccine platforms is they're able to adjust the code and formulate these vaccines fairly quickly," Russo said. "The trials to measure the response, and potentially protection, could also occur much more rapidly than the first phase trials.”

Rotella goes to Rochester Thursday to get his blood drawn, something he's done after every dose. He says it'll be worth it.

“I’ve lost friends, I have a lot of people who’ve lost family members, it’s all very very sad; however, what I can say is it’s been very rewarding to help be on the frontlines of cutting edge science, and help be part of a cause to help bring all this to an end,” Rotella said.