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“Hope in a Syringe”: An Interview with Rachel Elsberry

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On May 29, 2020, Moderna TX, Inc. sponsored a study to test a vaccine for COVID-19. Rachel Elsberry was a participant in that study. This is her story of what happened.

By Cy White, image by Daniel Schludi for Unsplash.

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The Texas branch of Moderna Therapeutics, a company whose sole focus is on vaccine technology, sponsored a study to test a vaccine to fight against COVID-19. In short, the vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to combat the virus. On May 29, Rachel Elsberry was a participant in the vaccine study.

Dec. 17, Austin Woman magazine got a chance to have a Zoom interview with Elsberry. During the sit-down, she talked about Moderna’s practices during vaccine testing, the overall procedure and the effects of what happened.

“As the daughter of a nurse, you’re not going to really get around vaccines,” Elsberry revealed. With a history of healthcare workers in her family, it’s no wonder she’s so enthusiastic about vaccine studies. She told Austin Woman the Moderna study was the third time she’d participated in vaccine testing. She’s certainly no stranger to the procedures or the side effects. Though the pain at the injection site did come as a shock to her, nothing else really seemed out of the ordinary.

Throughout the conversation Elsberry was adamant that the Moderna vaccine was more than just a shot in the dark. “This has been years in the making,” she said. “It’s just taking existing science and applying it to this virus.” Further, she emphasizes just how passionate those working on this mRNA technology really are. “Most of the scientists who do this kind of thing…this is their life’s work.”

More than anything, Elsberry wanted to implore people not to worry. Moderna is just one in a few companies that have done extensive testing to ensure that we actually find a way out of this pandemic. In her eyes, this isn’t a time to panic. This is a time for cautious optimism. “The vaccine comes along and gives us hope,” she said. “I call it hope in a syringe. And it really is that.”


To stay informed about the developments concerning COVID-19, including vaccination, visit the CDC website.

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