FOX 35 EXCLUSIVE: Second Central Florida lab selected for COVID-19 vaccine trial

Two Central Florida laboratories have been selected for trials for two different COVID-19 vaccines.

Accel Clinical Research in DeLand opened its clinic’s doors to FOX 35 News for a tour and to learn about the testing that will begin soon.

“It probably will be historic in slowing down this pandemic,” said Dr. Bruce Rankin, Accel Clinical Research medical research director.

Dr. Rankin is confident in the coronavirus vaccine his lab will be testing. Biotech company Moderna selected the site as one of its trial labs as the race to find a vaccine heats up.

“Most of the trials we’ve done for vaccines have taken six to eight years from the initial testing all the way through completion and approval through our FDA. This one we’re seeing things happen in six months that took six years in the past,” Dr. Rankin said.

RELATED: Orlando selected as a site for clinical trial of possible COVID-19 vaccine

The research lab is looking for 2,500 participants who work in industries that require them to be in close contact with people, like theme park workers.

“We’re talking about the theme parks, teachers, people in public transportation. We’re talking about first responders; we’re talking about people who work in big facilities, warehouses...” Dr. Rankin said.

The reason? They may be the population most likely to become exposed to coronavirus.

“We want to be able to see the effectiveness of the vaccine. When you’re looking at effectiveness, you need to get the group that is going to be the highest risk of getting the infection,” Dr. Rankin said.

Volunteers will receive an appointment to visit the facility to learn more information. 

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If they meet the criteria and agree to the consent form, they will be vaccinated on the spot.  The staff will check-in regularly to see how the participant is responding. Dr. Lora Parahovnik, the lab’s vice president of clinical operations, says the volunteers play a critical role.

“It’s teamwork, and the patients are like a family for us,” Dr. Parahovnik said.

Dr. Rankin welcomes local volunteers to help find a cure.

“We all want to do something to help. We all want to have some hope that we can get our lives back to some normality. I think this is a very safe and effective way to play a part in helping us get through this and moving on,” he said.

The commitment is 25 months with the trial starting later this month. Participants will be compensated up to $1,200 throughout the duration of the trial. 

Click here for information on applying. You can also call 386-785-2400.