Susan Froehlich experienced a headache and sore muscles for a few hours after the shot, but the symptoms dissipated with an over-the-counter pain reliever

By Julie Mazziotta
December 07, 2020 12:40 PM
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Dr. Thomas Froehlich and Susan Froehlich
Susan and Thomas Froehlich

One of the thousands of volunteers who enrolled in a COVID-19 vaccine trial is sharing her experience to inform and encourage Americans to get vaccinated once the shots are available.

Susan Froehlich and her husband Thomas volunteered to test Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is now one of the two vaccines likely to be approved for use in the U.S.

Though Susan had a few hours of “pain” as she dealt with side effects from the vaccine, she said they were “absolutely” worth it to be protected from COVID-19.

Speaking with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta during CNN’s global coronavirus town hall, the couple explained that as trial volunteers, they were either given doses of the actual vaccine or a placebo — typically a saltwater mixture — and monitored for several months. Thomas had no symptoms and believes he was given the placebo, while Susan had about “four hours” of side effects after getting the second of the vaccine’s two doses.

"I woke up with a horrible stomachache and headache, and it was like I was at the beginning stages of a bad flu," she said. "And so, I didn't have anything to take for it at the time, so I was in a lot of pain until about four hours later, when my husband woke up and I had him go get me some Naproxen."

Susan said that after taking the Naproxen, also known as Aleve, “all those symptoms went away.”

“If I had had Naproxen right away, I think those symptoms would've abated more quickly. But my muscles hurt, my joints hurt, my bones hurt, my jaw hurt," she said. "But it was for such a short time."

And Susan said she “absolutely, hands down,” would take the vaccine again and go through that short bout of pain if necessary.

"And if it becomes necessary for me to get this once a year, you can bet I'm going to be the first in line," she said.

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Susan and Thomas urged Americans to get immunized once the vaccine becomes available.

"We need to have everybody out getting this vaccine,” Susan said. “It is so much better than getting the disease. We have had several friends now and relatives who have come down with COVID, and I don't want to go through that."

COVID-19 cases are currently at unmanageably high levels across the country. The U.S. saw a record-breaking 229,077 new infections on Friday and the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day, 2,885, on Wednesday. And hospitalizations have increased every day for the last month. As of Sunday, 101,487 Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19.

The coming vaccines are one of the few hopes to curb the soaring rates of infections. Moderna, along with Pfizer, have applied for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration for their COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that the majority of Americans will likely be able to get the vaccine by April or May.

“By the time we get to April, we would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population — the normal, healthy young man or woman, 30 years old that has no underlying conditions — can walk into a CVS or to a Walgreens and get vaccinated," he said.

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