Vanderbilt looking for more volunteers for vaccine trials, especially from minority communities

Posted at 4:49 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 21:20:55-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, vaccine trials are underway.

Space is limited but Vanderbilt University Medical Center is still looking for more volunteers for the phase 3 trial of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson. They are specifically looking for those over the age of 60 or those who are Hispanic or Black.

The main difference with this vaccine trial is that it is a single dose vaccine, while the moderna vaccine is a two-dose vaccine.

Last Thursday 49-year-old Yuri Cunza got injected with either a placebo shot or the vaccine. "They don't know and you don't know," Cunza said, "nobody knows what they are giving you."

24 hours after receiving the shot, Cunza did get a fever that reached 102 degrees, but it's unknown at this time if it's related to the vaccine at all, or whether Cunza did even receive the vaccine. "After I got it it was weird," Cunza said, "a little pain and dizzy and then that made me think I didn't get saline in there."

Even so, Cunza has no regrets about being part of the trial. He says he rather suffer for one day than the alternative, which is getting the disease and consequences that comes with that.

"They said this is normal, you're not getting the COVID virus, you're getting a piece of it. A duplicate of what maybe part of it so your body can recognize and learn how to defend itself against it," Cunza said.

COVID-19 disproportionately affects minority communities. It's one of the main reasons Yuri Cunza wanted to volunteer.

Cunza is a proud Peruvian-American and the president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He believes the only way we are going to beat this pandemic is if we all work together and step up when needed.

"I'm an advocate of medicine and science and I know how hard it is for people in the front-lines dealing with patients every day and we all have to be mindful and thoughtful," Cunza said.

Cunza will have to log his symptoms and how he is feeling for the next two years in an app.

Are you interested in participating in the trial? For more information about the study click here or contact