Oklahoma woman participates in COVID-19 trial so she can hug her grandchildren again

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Sixty-five-year-old Shelley Stutchman is one of the 330 Oklahomans participating in phase three of a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine.

She says it wasn’t for the money, but because she wants to hug her grandchildren again.

“My 10-year-old granddaughter named Abby came up to visit. She said, ‘Grandma, I can’t hug you because I’m afraid I’ll make you die,'” Shelley told sister station KFOR. “That broke my heart.”

So Shelley volunteered for the Moderna vaccine trial at the Lynn Health Science Institute. Despite her own son offering her $1,000 not to take part in the trial, she says she feels like this is something she was supposed to do.

“My mother had polio, and because of the polio vaccine she didn’t have to worry about myself or my sister having polio,” Shelley said. “I don’t want to have future generations (to) have to worry about having this devastating disease if we can get a vaccine out for it.”

It’s a blind study, meaning Shelley doesn’t know if she was given the actual vaccine or just a placebo. She received the first injection this week, and in 28 days she’ll go back for another dose. Throughout the trial she has to track any possible side effects.

“They’re looking to see if anybody gets an elevated temperature with their natural immune response … if they have any muscle aches and soreness,” said Dr. Carl Griffin, principle investigator on the trial. “Exactly how much swelling may be at the site of the injection.”

Shelley says that’s a small price to pay if it means a future where she doesn’t have to be physically distanced from her grandchildren.

“It’s a minor thing to maybe make a big difference,” Shelley said. “So, I feel lucky to get to help with that.”

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