I’m on the Janssen vaccine trial (Johnson & Johnson) where you have two jabs. I’m in ENSEMBLE2, a phase 3 trial, which involves thousands of people and starts when the vaccine has already been tested on hundreds of people.
I wanted to join a vaccine trial because it is important for people with diabetes to take part so the results can be shown to be relevant to us. And I wanted to give myself the benefits of a vaccine before I was likely to get any NHS-issued vaccine.
I had registered for vaccine trials on the NHS website. I’ve been involved in other research trials, so I know how high the standards of care and research methods are.
I think some people are frightened of research. They don’t realise clinical trials are carried out by hospitals. Some of the money they get will go into improving patient care. They’re known as research hospitals. They attract up and coming medics and research adds to the hospital’s prestige.
A lot of research trials are nothing to do with medicines or injections. For some trials, you might just give blood samples, or have things measured, such as the sensitivity in your feet.
Getting the vaccine
On trials, half of you are given the real treatment and the other half are given a ‘fake’ treatment. (placebo). When I was called up for my actual NHS vaccine, I rang the hospital and found out I’d had the real Janssen vaccine. As I’d had a vaccine, I was told I couldn’t have the NHS one. It was a bit of a worry as I couldn’t be sure that the Janssen vaccine had worked but it looks now as if the vaccine will be approved which is reassuring.
When I went for the first jab on the trial (December 2020). I was so busy talking to the research nurse, whom I knew from my previous diabetes research trial, that the injection had already been done without me realising it.
I was interested in the 15 minutes afterwards to see if it affects my blood glucose, but it didn’t. About 10 days later, my arm was sore - but apparently your body’s reaction can be anytime up to the first three weeks. When I had the second vaccination in January, I just felt a bit achy for a day.