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South Florida Mom Is A Participant In Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Trial

Giovanna Sasbin and her children.
Giovanna Sasbin
Giovanna Sasbin and her children.

The 33-year old wife and mother of two says she and her family wanted to be more active in the new vaccine rollout.

Johnson & Johnson has been testing its COVID-19 vaccine on volunteers in South Florida. And late Friday the shot became the latest COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization.

One local participant, Giovanna Sasbin, is involved in the latest phase of the clinical trial. The 33-year old woman from The Acreage is a wife and mother of two.

“So this is a double-blind, placebo controlled trial, and it's called Ensemble Two because it is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Sasbin said.

But instead of the one dose, it’s two.

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Sasbin says she and her family wanted to be more active in the new vaccine rollout — pandemic fatigue was slowly taking its toll.

“All of us had been sitting at home during this pandemic. I mean, and just feeling kind of helpless like 'when is it going to end?'” she said. “When I saw the opportunity that 'Oh, I can help vaccines be approved' and that’s really what motivated me.”

Sasbin is a third-year pharmacy student at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach and said she was also motivated by mere curiosity about clinical trials.

Health Awareness, Inc is the local clinical research firm handling the trial and Sasbin found out about their trial through her primary care doctor, located in the same building.

She says she wasn't surprised by the speed at which health professionals have been able to administer the vaccines because “these vaccines — it’s not some new technology. It’s not something that they just started from scratch.”

There are already two FDA-approved vaccines that require two doses. This vaccine will be the first that only requires one shot.

“So I already got the first dose in January and then it's the second dose separated by 57 days," said Sasbin. “So actually the third of March, I'll be going for the second one.”

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Wilkine Brutus is a multimedia journalist for WLRN, South Florida's NPR, and a member of Washington Post/Poynter Institute’ s 2019 Leadership Academy. A former Digital Reporter for The Palm Beach Post, Brutus produces enterprise stories on topics surrounding people, community innovation, entrepreneurship, art, culture, and current affairs.
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