Vaccine volunteer steps forward

COVID CONCIOUS- Chris LeTard wears a mask for protection of COVID-19 while out shopping with his pet Guinea pigs. 

Christopher LeTard of Hammond wants to help combat COVID-19 so he has volunteered to receive a trial vaccine.

“It was an opportunity that I sought because I want to contribute to this fight somehow,” he said. “I am a very social person, and it’s been hard being apart from friends and family. I have a lot of immunocompromised people in my family, and I’ve been worried about them.”

A musician and chef, he has worked in several Hammond restaurants and catered important events. He recently began working in a food truck and has helped Cate Street Pub convert from a bar into a restaurant so the business can re-open under COVID-19 guidelines.

“A lot of my life revolves around things that would normally be open or allowed,” he said. “I felt like more people volunteering for the vaccine might help speed up our recovery.”

LeTard said he has never fallen ill from COVID-19 and receiving the vaccine is a preventative measure. He said he understands there could be risks in taking a vaccine before it is approved by the FDA but he feels fine so far.

He is receiving the trial vaccine from ModernaTX at a clinic in Baton Rouge.

“When I visit, they take my vitals and a nasal swab,” he said. “They take 10 vials of my blood for lab study, and then I receive a shot. The process takes about 30 minutes.”

His trial will consist of six visits over 25 months and involves calls once a week from the clinic and self monitoring with a custom phone app.

“The first month is nearly complete and I’m about to go in for a second shot,” he said. “So far, I haven’t felt any different since taking the first. I had some bruising on my arm from the shot, but other than that I feel as healthy as I normally am. So far, so good.”

He hopes the trials will lead to a vaccine approved by the FDA.

“I will be honest. I haven’t taken many vaccines in my lifetime,” he said. “I used to not get the flu shot but recently started doing it during the season, and I can see where it worked.”

Following FDA approval, LeTard said he hopes people will consider helping get rid of the virus by receiving the vaccine safely.

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