Veteran Volunteers Needed for Vaccine Trial - VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System
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VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System


Veteran Volunteers Needed for Vaccine Trial

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Veteran volunteers are encouraged to enroll in the study at VASNHCS, with special focus on Veterans from diverse, non-white, populations.

By Michael Brogan
Thursday, December 3, 2020

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System (VASNHCS) needs Veteran volunteers from diverse backgrounds to take part in an ongoing clinical trial for the single-dose investigational coronavirus vaccine developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. This is the fourth large-scale COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States.

Veteran volunteers are encouraged to enroll in the study at VASNHCS, with special focus on Veterans from diverse, non-white, populations:

  • Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives (men and non-pregnant women age 18 or over)
  • Anyone over the age of 60

The reason VASNHCS seeks minority Veterans to enroll is because the COVID-19 pandemic has affected members of these community at much higher rates than the rest of the population.

Mark S. Riddle, MD, DrPH, Associate Chief of Staff for Research, is leading the vaccine study at VASNHCS. Dr. Riddle says in addition to volunteers from diverse populations, they are also looking for specific age groups, “It’s really important to include volunteers in the ENSEMBLE trial with diverse backgrounds to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective across the entire population we serve. This is why we are focusing on volunteers from diverse, non-white ethnic backgrounds. In addition, we are still recruiting any Veteran volunteers who are 60 years of age or older.”

The more participants from these communities in the study, the better researchers will understand if the investigational vaccine is truly safe and effective for the people who need it most.

Dr. Riddle appreciates the commitment it takes to participate in the trial, “There are multiple visits that will occur over a two-year period to measure the immune response to the vaccine and evaluate its safety,” explains Dr. Riddle. “Volunteers also need to report symptoms weekly in an electronic diary they keep, as well as collect their own samples should they become ill.”

Dr. Riddle, a Navy Veteran, and his research team have noticed a common theme among the Veterans volunteering for the study: a desire to continue to serve their country. For their willingness to serve, he’s grateful, “Our sincere thanks to all of the volunteers who are helping us to develop vaccines that may put an end to this pandemic.”

Can I get COVID-19 from the investigational vaccine?

You cannot get COVID-19 from the investigational vaccine or the placebo used as part of the study. That’s because the investigational vaccine does not contain any live or killed virus. For more information about the Janssen clinical trials, including the investigational vaccine they’re testing, visit

Will the investigational vaccine make me higher-risk for COVID-19?

The investigational vaccine will not increase your risk of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone is at risk for getting COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus. However, some people are more likely to become more seriously ill than others, such as older adults and people with underlying health conditions. The investigational vaccine will not increase your risk of complications if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Will I get paid for joining a study or compensated for travel costs?

If accepted into the VASNHCS COVID-19 vaccine trial, you can earn between $500 and $1,300. In addition, you won't have to pay for any visits, tests, or care related to the study. VASNHCS will explain the details about compensation once they contact you. 

How can I sign up for this study?

Anyone interested in participating in the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial at VASNHCS should sign up for VA’s coronavirus research volunteer list at

Signing up for the volunteer list does not guarantee enrollment into the trial. Volunteers will be contacted if they appear to meet the trial’s eligibility criteria and seem like a good match for the COVID-19 study at VASNHCS.

Veterans who live too far from VASNHCS but want to volunteer for other COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in their area can register with the Coronavirus Prevention Network at

To learn more about other VA research efforts on COVID-19, visit

For specific questions about the COVID-19 vaccine trial at VASNHCS, call 775-326-2780 or email


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