Nashville, Tenn. (May 14, 2021) – Volunteers have once again come to the aid of Nashvillians. Last fall and winter, more than 1,400 selfless neighbors, friends, and family members enrolled in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines through Clinical Research Associates, Meharry Medical College, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Thanks to these individuals—along with the many doctors, research coordinators, and scientists who developed the vaccines—Nashvillians can begin to safely return to normal, pre-pandemic life. Capacity restrictions are lifting today, six weeks after the vaccine became available to everyone age 16 and up. This would not have been possible without the volunteer spirit that Nashvillians have exhibited countless times since the beginning of 2020. Today Metro-Davidson County extended a profound thank you to everyone who volunteered to be part of a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper issued the following statement thanking volunteers: “We are the Volunteer State and Nashvillians stepped up to participate in the trials. I’m grateful to the trial participants and scientists for proving that the vaccines are safe and effective. The vaccines are life-saving and economy-saving. Everyone should follow the lead of the trial participants and the 300,000 Nashville residents who have already been vaccinated.”
Medicine candidates advance through four clinical trial phases to test a treatment, find the appropriate dosage, and look for side effects. Trials must be completed first in animals, then small groups of people, and finally in larger populations. This is to be sure that the medication is safe and that it does what is designed to do—in this case, protecting people from COVID-19. Thanks to these trial volunteers, providers know that the first two vaccines authorized for emergency use provide 95 percent protection from COVID-19.
“Thank you to every single volunteer who participated in clinical trials with us, and thank you to my excellent staff for coordinating the trials,” CRA President and CEO Linda Schipani added. “You saved lives, you prevented others from developing a long-term illness, and you helped bring our economy back. I hope that everyone involved understands how massively their contributions impacted everyone else.”
Meharry Medical College shared efforts in this success, coordinating COVID-19 vaccine trials to ensure the vaccine was effective for all people. The College also provided testing, treatment, and resources for families and community members throughout the pandemic and is now offering vaccines at a variety of locations throughout Davidson County.
“We are grateful to those who volunteered to participate – without whom we wouldn’t have a vaccine,” said Dr. James E. K. Hildreth, President, and CEO of Meharry. “We have made vast efforts at Meharry to respond to this health crisis within our community and, through our clinical trials, will be able to ensure that everyone has access to vaccines.”
Trial participants will continue to be monitored over 24 months. They originally received either the investigational product (vaccine) or a placebo. Patients who received the placebo were given the opportunity to take the vaccine after authorization but will remain in the study to continue measuring the vaccine’s safety, efficacy and durability.
“My decision to join the trial came after a conversation with Clinical Research Associates about the overall process. They helped to debunk several myths that come with vaccine shots and trials, as well as provided information related to the many phases a vaccine study goes through,” said Jacky Gomez, a participant in one of CRA’s COVID vaccine trials. “I knew that there is a disproportionate representation from the Latino vaccine participants which further motivated me to sign up so that I could be a part of a study that impacts my community.”
Vanderbilt University Medical Center also played a key role in coordinating COVID-19 vaccine trials locally. “Over the past year we’ve come a long way in our battle against COVID-19 but we still have admissions to our hospitals at Vanderbilt. Now, the patients we’re treating for COVID are younger. The fight against the virus is far from finished and the most important step everyone can take to help end the pandemic is to get vaccinated. Doing so will protect you and others from the virus. We have plenty of vaccine available that has been proven safe and effective by researchers here at Vanderbilt and elsewhere. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity because even one more death is too many,” said William Schaffner, MD, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Health Policy, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
To learn more about clinical trials at Meharry, VUMC or CRA visit