Officer Antonio Ruiz: 'I am protected, and am protecting my fellow officers.'By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s an exciting day for volunteers who took part in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine trial here in Pittsburgh. They get to find out if they got the shot or the placebo.

KDKA spoke with trial participant Antonio Ruiz, a Pittsburgh Police officer. He was just about to walk into the University Center in Oakland to find out his results. The police officer said it was important to him to find out if he got the shot so others can benefit.

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“Our department was going to start vaccinating officers, and I felt it would be important to reserve that vaccine, if in fact, I did receive it for another officer or another first responder that needed it,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz began participating in the Moderna trial over the summer. He said the first day was a surprise.

(Photo Courtesy: Antonio Ruiz)

“I didn’t know whether I was getting the placebo or the vaccine. Actually, I didn’t realize I was going to be getting it that day,” said Ruiz.

He said he felt good after and just had mild symptoms. About a month later, it was time for the second dose.

“The next day symptoms were a little more pronounced. Probably felt more like a nasty hangover, but wasn’t anything terrible,” said Ruiz.

Fast forward to Thursday, Jan. 7. Ruiz and around 30 other volunteers had the chance to find out if they’ve been protected this whole time.

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Dr. Judith Martin says the process is called “unblinding.”

“They sign a consent document saying they wish to find out which treatment group was assigned to them. We go into computer and look and see which group they got,” said Martin.

Turns out, Ruiz got the vaccine. He said it’s a big sigh of relief.

“I have a little more peace of mind now knowing that when I go into a situation, like that I am protected, and am protecting my fellow officers,” said Ruiz.

He encourages others to get the shot.

“I see a lot of apprehension out there and I believe it would benefit everyone if we just did this,” said Ruiz.

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UPMC said the volunteers who got the placebo during the trial were able to get the shot Thursday if they wanted it.