Volunteering

Why Volunteer? Quite simply, you can help us save lives.

When you volunteer for a vaccine testing study, you help researchers develop potentially lifesaving vaccines. All over the world, millions of people in our global community eagerly await vaccines that will improve their health, prevent illness and reduce the enormous economic impact of infectious diseases. Volunteering is a great way to act locally to create global change.


Vaccine Study FAQ's

What is a clinical research study/trial? 
A clinical research trial evaluates the safety and effectiveness of a new medication, biologic or vaccine by monitoring its effect on large groups of people. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines a clinical trial as, “a prospective biomedical or behavioral research study of human subjects that is designed to answer specific questions about biomedical or behavioral interventions (drugs, treatments, devices, or new ways of using known drugs, treatments or devices)”. Clinical trials are used to evaluate new biomedical or behavioral interventions for safety, efficacy, and effectiveness.

Call to volunteer with woman wearing mask

The VTC and UVMMC are currently participating in the AZD1222 COVID-19 Vaccine Study to research a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The study is now enrolling people from Vermont, as well as parts of New Hampshire and New York who are at risk of COVID-19 illness. Approximately 30,000 volunteers across the United States are expected to take part in this study, and approximately four hundred will be enrolled at the UVM Medical Center.

To learn more about this exciting opportunity and do a pre-screen survey, visit UVMMC's COVID-19-vaccine-study web page.

Who may participate?

Each study may have a differing criteria for volunteers. Some may seek young, healthy volunteers while others may need people from a different age group with certain risk factors. For example, many of the nation's current COVID vaccine studies are looking for volunteers over the age of 18 who are at risk of getting COVID or at risk for having complications from COVID if they are infected.

 

What is the time commitment?
This also varies from study to study. In-person screening and study visits may take several hours while follow-up visits and remote check-ins after vaccination are typically of shorter duration. Most of the COVID vaccine trials currently progressing nationally involve a series of 2 vaccines one month apart with 8 follow-up study visits and 2 phone calls over a two year period. 

Will I receive any compensation?
Every vaccine study is different, but most studies do involve some type of compensation for participation. Payments are typically made throughout the course of the study.

How do I know that a vaccine is safe?
All clinical trials, including vaccine development studies, are designed to be as safe as possible for human volunteers. However, there are risks involved in participation in any clinical study. Often, one of the objectives of studies is to evaluate the medication, biologic or vaccine for safety, efficacy and effectiveness. In the development of most medications or vaccines, the products will have first been tested in animals to see if it is safe and to see if it generates an immune response (stimulates the body to fight the infection). Then, after a long process of data review and further approval by the FDA, vaccine trials are conducted in humans in “clinical trials”. 

In addition, before a new “investigational product” (medication, biological, vaccine) is given to human subjects, its use must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Following approval by the FDA, the study must be approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), a committee that consists of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, other scientists, and community members, who are “responsible for reviewing and overseeing all research activities in order to ensure protection of individuals who participate in research projects.” The IRB requires that each study lists all known potential risks in an Informed Consent Form, which must be read, understood, and signed by the volunteer before study participation. 

Complicated studies also have a safety oversight group which reviews data on an interim basis as another check for subject safety. 

It is important to know that approvals by safety and ethics committees cannot eliminate risk in human studies. The individual volunteer must read and understand the potential risks in each trial and determine for themselves whether they would like to participate.

What if I decide I don’t want to continue in the study after I’ve signed the informed consent?
You are free to leave the study at any time. If you have received a medication, vaccine or biologic product, however, the study team will request that they are able to contact you to be sure you remain healthy.

Does every volunteer receive the vaccine?
Again, each study is different. A volunteer may receive the vaccine or may receive a placebo. This would be explained before you signed a consent to participate in any study activity.

Will I be told whether I received the vaccine or placebo? If so, when?
This is different with each study and would be explained to you before the consent is signed.

How can I sign up?

The VTC and UVMMC are participating in the AZD1222 COVID-19 Vaccine Study to research a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The study is now enrolling volunteers who are at risk of COVID-19 illness. Approximately 30,000 volunteers across the United States are expected to take part in this study, and approximately four hundred will be enrolled at the UVM Medical Center. To learn more and do a pre-screen survey, visit UVMMC's COVID-19-vaccine-study web page.

What happens at a screening appointment?
First, the volunteer will learn about the study’s goals and requirements, have an opportunity to ask questions, and read and sign the informed consent form if interested in participating. Second, the screening process is used to determine if you are eligible to be in the study. The study team (coordinators, nurses, doctors) will ask you questions about your medical history, perform a brief physical exam and obtain samples for blood and/or urine testing. The blood and urine testing will help ensure that you are healthy and qualify for the study.

If I am eligible after attending the screening appointment and would like to participate, what happens next? 
After the end of the screening visit, the study team will contact the volunteer to review the laboratory data. If the volunteer qualifies for the study, they will be invited to participate.

What can I expect at dosing day?
Dosing day includes review of the study and a subject’s eligibility followed by a brief physical exam and blood draw and/or urine testing.  Following these pre-dosing procedures, you will receive either the vaccine or a placebo either as an injection in your upper arm or as an oral vaccine, depending on the type of vaccine being studied. You are required to stay for 30 minutes for observation and education post vaccination. The dosing day visit typically lasts about two hours.

What happens after dosing day?
After the dosing day, subjects will be expected to return to the research clinic for follow up visits.  The number of visits and duration of each visit varies depending the study. Some studies also require subjects to complete a diary of any symptoms they have after vaccination and/or record their temperature.