Some clinical trial participants not recognized as vaccinated

Thousands of Americans took part in COVID-19 vaccine trials, but now some say they’re being left behind.

Take, for example, travel journalist Troy Petenbrink. Recently he’d been invited to cover a cruise.

"I’m like, yeah, I’ll take a cruise," Petenbrink explained. "That’ll be great, I need to cover the industry."

He provided his vaccination card, as requested, only to find out it wouldn’t be accepted.

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"I’m told, ‘oh I’m sorry. You’re uninvited. CDC guidelines say that we can only recognize the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine,’" Petenbrink explained to FOX 5.

It’s because Petenbrink is one of the thousands of people who participated in a vaccine trial, in his case Novavax. So, he does have a clinical trial vaccination card issued by the CDC, however, it didn’t get him on the cruise and Petenbrink said it didn’t get him into a New York City bar either.

"I don’t feel badly about the restaurants and businesses that are asking for verification," he explained. "I think that’s a good thing. I think it would encourage more people to become vaccinated. The issue is, I am vaccinated and so are the other 50,000 Americans who got Novavax or AstraZeneca. We’re the ones who actually stepped up, did the right thing, and we’re being left behind."

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In a statement, Novavax said in part, "clinical trial participants made a crucial – and life-saving – contribution during an unprecedented global pandemic. We want these folks to know that we are doing everything we can to advocate for them…We are working with urgency to complete the requirements to finalize our regulatory submissions to various agencies as quickly as possible."

Novavax added, "we firmly believe that clinical trial participants should not be disadvantaged with respect to providing proof of vaccination."

At least one infectious disease expert agreed.

"For me, looking at the clinical data with the Novavax and AstraZeneca vaccines, I do think that those are equivalent and those individuals should be considered fully vaccinated," said Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

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Nevertheless, Petenbrink is still waiting for answers, at least, for now.

"People have constantly said, ‘well just go out and get the other vaccine.’ Well that’s nice, but you know, the idea that I’m now putting two new drugs into my body without any sort of information coming from health officials is rather scary," added Petenbrink.

Neither the CDC nor AstraZeneca immediately responded to requests for comment.