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Fully Vaccinated For COVID But No Vaccine Card As Proof: A First-Person Account From Mountain West News Bureau Reporter

A syringe is inserted into a vial of liquid from which it is extracting.
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600,000-plus Idahoans have been fully vaccinated (officially).

More than 600,000 Idahoans have now been fully vaccinated with the Janssen, Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. And all of them should have received a vaccine card – proof that they’re immunized. But participants in vaccine trials – even those who have been told that they have indeed received a vaccine and not a placebo – don’t have such proof.

“Like so many others that are still running trials, say they're working on some sort of proof to give to people. But they didn't give me a timeline,” said Mountain West News Bureau reporter Madelyn Beck, who is a participant in the AztraZeneca vaccine trial.

“They didn't say when they would send it out to vaccine participants. So really, I'm just kind of flying blind here," she said.

Beck visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the conundrum, whether she would consider getting another vaccine outside of the trial, and what some airlines are saying about possibly requiring proof of vaccine.

“I don't have that card. All I have are some information sheets on the trial that I'm in. That's all I have as far as proof.”
Madelyn Beck

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: On a Wednesday, it's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. businesses, some schools, certainly airlines are all grappling with whether they should be requiring proof of… well, whether you've been vaccinated or not… whether you've received a COVID vaccine. But what if you've been vaccinated and have no proof? That is a very real conundrum. Here to talk with us about that exact scenario is the Mountain West News Bureau’s. Madelyn Beck. Madelyn, good morning.

MADELYN BECK: Good morning.

PRENTICE: Remind our listeners about the COVID-19 vaccine trial that you're in, and where you're at with that.

Boise State Public Radio
Boise State Public Radio
The Mountain News Bureau's Madelyn Beck

BECK: So, I am in the vaccine trial for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and I know many others in the Boise area are in that particular trial as well. And so, a lot of us got our vaccines. If you got the actual vaccine and not the placebo… we got vaccinated all the way back at the beginning of the year, or the end of last year. I got my first one in December of last year and then my second shot just before January 1st.

PRENTICE: So some places are requiring proof of the vaccine…concert venues…just the other day, we learned that all of Oregon's public universities will require vaccines for students and staff, and a number of airlines…we'll talk about that in a second. So, are you, as a vaccine trial participant - and you know that you got the vaccine - are you able to provide that proof?

BECK: Absolutely not. I have reached out to AstraZeneca and apparently they, like so many others that are still running trials, say they're working on some sort of proof to give to people. But they didn't give me a timeline. They didn't say when they would send it out to vaccine participants. So really, I'm just kind of flying blind here.

PRENTICE: But what if you needed proof right away? Would you consider getting another vaccine now?

BECK: There is the very real conundrum for me right now, because if I were to drop out of the vaccine trial, then I could go get any other vaccine. But we only really have these trials to show what the side effects of those vaccines might be. We don't know what the side effects of having two different vaccines; and we don't know the side effects of mixing certain vaccines with other vaccines. Obviously, there have been some really challenging side effects for different ones. And of course, one of the most concerning, but also the most rare, are the blood clots that young women have had. And me being a younger woman of childbearing age, that's a concern. So, yeah, I have a lot of challenges to figure out with that.

PRENTICE: What can you tell us about the status of airlines and whether they're going to be requiring proof of vaccine?

BECK: So, I've talked with a couple of the different airline companies and organizations representing airlines. And generally, what they've said is airlines are only going to require where their destination is largely going to require. So, if you're flying to Brazil and Brazil says you need proof of vaccine, that's what they'll require. That said, of the countries that are requiring vaccines right now, there are largely loopholes for people who medically can't get a vaccine. And even in the United States to fly in here, you just need proof that you have gotten a negative COVID test. And that's similar to a lot of places. That said, these airline organizations would really like some standardization so that they can tell everyone this is what you're going to need; but they don't have that right now. So, they just say, “Check with your airline before you fly anywhere.”

PRENTICE: Several vaccines have already been approved by US authorities and other countries around the world. So why still have these vaccine trials?

BECK: Well, there are a couple different reasons. And one is they need to keep monitoring what's going on in your blood and whether you still have those antibodies. So, even if you're in a Pfizer or Moderna trial, well, they're still monitoring those. And so we'll use that information to check whether we need booster shots later on. And then beyond that, we still have a bunch of other vaccines working their way through the system. Last I checked in The New York Times, it was over 90. We're still in vaccine trials, about 30. We're in the final stages. And why we have all those as they take different ingredients. There are different levels of expensive of how to produce them. And that's really important. If we want the entire world to be vaccinated. We need ones that are not as expensive. We need ones that different areas have different access to resources can make and distribute. So that's why it's still important.

PRENTICE: So, while you have had communications with the folks who are doing the trials, in regards to the process, the procedure, your scheduling, et cetera, you don't have that card that I have… and that many other people have. You just don't have that card.

BECK: No, I don't have that card. All I have are some information sheets on the trial that I'm in. That's all I have as far as proof,

PRENTICE: This is really a conundrum. And quite frankly, I'm kind of surprised they didn't think this through earlier.

BECK: It would have been nice. But, you know, it leaves a lot of people like myself… and I know so many others… in this really not-so-great limbo.

PRENTICE: She is Madelyn Beck of the Mountain West News Bureau, Madelyn, best of luck with this. And as always, we look forward to all of your reporting. Thanks for giving us some time this morning.

BECK: Thank you.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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