How To Participate In A Vaccine Trial

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Multiple large scale vaccine trials are being conducted around the country with cohorts of as many as 30,000 people participating.

And while trials are proceeding rapidly, it is not too late to sign up to participate.

Professor Elizabeth Halloran is an infectious disease modeler and biostatistician at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and part of the team that curates GLEAM, the Global Epidemic and Mobility Model. She told KCBS Radio’s “Ask An Expert” segment Monday that regardless of your health or age, you are likely eligible to participate in a vaccine trial.

“Most people think ‘oh I’m too old to register for the vaccine,’ but they really want to find out how the vaccine works in vulnerable populations, they really want to have minority populations signing up, they want people with risk factors to sign up to get this vaccine in the vaccine trials so they can tell if it really works in those kinds of people.”

Diversifying the sample population means that the final results of the study will be more representative of how the vaccine will work across the entire population of the U.S., not just a certain type of person.

“It’s an important part of the way the trials are being done,” said Professor Halloran.

That diversity will also help public health experts reassure people that it is safe for them.

Widening the test population also helps scientists to get the data they need much sooner.

“The number of people in the trial isn’t really the relevant thing, what’s relevant is how many cases of disease do you have,” she explained, because regardless of how large the test population is, if no one in the control or test group becomes sick, researchers cannot tell how effective the vaccine really is. “You actually only need a few hundred cases to get an answer, you don’t need 30,000. But you need a large number of people in the trial so that you’ll have a large number of ‘events’, that is cases of disease, where then you can compare how the vaccine protects.”

You can sign up to be a volunteer in a vaccine trial at