First Lyme vaccine shot administered

Vineyard Haven woman excited to be part of clinical trial.

Kate O'Brian was all smiles after being the first Islander to get a shot in the Lyme vaccine clinical trial. -Eunki Seonwoo

If Pfizer’s Lyme vaccine gets approved, Kate O’Brian of Vineyard Haven will have some claim to fame on its road to helping prevent Lyme disease.

On Thursday, O’Brian became the first person to receive a dose of the vaccine through the clinical trial that’s underway through Care Access. O’Brian received her dose — or did she? (More about that later) — inside the Care Access trailer on the property of Vineyard Medical Care on State Road in Vineyard Haven.

O’Brian told The Times she was “thrilled to be the first person” on the Island to receive a Lyme disease vaccine through this trial. “Lyme disease is such a problem, particularly here on the Vineyard,” O’Brian said. “Just to be part of an effort to try to get a vaccine is really important.” 

O’Brian told The Times receiving the vaccine was “really easy, very professional,” commending the terrific work of the nurses in the mobile unit, who answered every question she had.

There was a buzz outside the trailer on Thursday as Michael Loberg, president of Vineyard Medical Care, and members of the Care Access staff huddled outside next to the trailer. 

Care Access has been on the Island since last month, signing up individuals. And while they’ve had great success and enthusiasm about the clinical trial, and they’re booked through next month with people getting their first dose, they still have plenty of slots available, and are looking to sign up more individuals.

“It seems like there’s been a lot of interest in the community in this trial because everybody is familiar with Lyme disease, knows somebody with Lyme disease,” said Alex Eastman, who is head of design for Care Access. “People have an interest in helping the Island and helping the community get rid of Lyme disease.”

Back to how it works. So, O’Brian got a dose on Thursday for sure, but only the technicians are certain whether it was the Lyme vaccine or placebo.

“Some will get what’s called the investigatory or study drug, and some will get a placebo,” Michael Parenteau, a software solutions expert for Care Access, said. “They won’t know. Only the study team administering the trial will know.”

Paranteau went on to say that if the drug gets approved, those involved in the study will be in line to get the drug.

The Lyme disease problem on Martha’s Vineyard has been well-documented. With so many deer and deer ticks, the debilitating disease has become so prevalent that it is the focus of a $10 million research study.

Because of that prevalence, the folks involved in conducting the trial have sensed that people involved really want to be a part of the clinical trials. “Some of them have had Lyme disease and have experienced the severity of the effects of the disease, and they were 100 percent interested,’ Paranteau said. “If this gets approved, they want it.”

The mobile units that Care Access has brought to the Island are what make a clinical trial possible here. 

“This is what Care Access can do,” Eastman said. “It gives us the ability to bring trials into communities that wouldn’t normally be able to participate in clinical research. So we have this trailer set up here. We have two other trailers on-Island. So we have more ability for people to sign up.”

Paranteau added, “We’re bringing these research vehicles out to places where research is not happening.” For people on the Island, it would be burdensome to be part of the study if they had to hop a ferry and commute to a brick-and-mortar research facility, he said. “Having a place on the Island where you don’t have to take a ferry, especially given the density of the problem, is pretty cool,” Paranteau said.

There is still time to sign up to be a part of the clinical study. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll go through a screening process to see if you’re eligible. Folks who received an earlier vaccine would not be eligible, for example.

Care Access is looking for children ages 5 and up, as well as adults. Anyone interested should call 877-565-5112 or visit the website at

O’Brian, like others, is inspired by the opportunity to make a difference. “If this leads to something where people can get vaccinations and not have to worry about getting Lyme disease, that would be a great thing,” she said. “Too many people I know have gotten Lyme disease. A couple of them have had really bad, long-term effects from it. Anything we can do to prevent that, particularly in a place like the Vineyard where it’s endemic, is a good thing.” 


Reporter Eunki Seonwoo contributed to this story.


  1. Thank you Kate.
    I’m signed up to get my first shot on Sept 10. Happy to be able to participate.
    I hope the trials go well, and we can get a handle on this serious disease.

    But my biggest concern is that Bill Gates is putting microchips in it.
    And then the gover-ment will be abel to comptrol me — but only when thems dern librals is in office. I’m not quite sure what they gonna make me do. But I did heer ’bout this on the internets from someone named “Q”.
    But if y’all is a fraid of neadles I think onse they gets this “approved” thems gonna be puttin’ it in salad dresin.
    I’ll be listnin to evry wurd “Q” has to say ’bout this.
    I’ll keep ya all poasted.

      • Tim– there is no limit to the dastardly tactics of the liberals–
        They know that liberals like Ben and Jerries’ ice cream– but hey also know conservatives like really cheap mostly high fructose corn syrup “ice cream”
        So they are putting the chips in there.
        And in such iconic brands as Hershey’s . Wow– they is so smaht
        So if you don’t want to be a part of the controlled minions, buy high quality organic ice cream, because the government will not bother “chipping” the converted.

  2. Before moving to the Vineyard in 2000 my husband and I received Lymes vaccine. I don’t know what pharmaceutical company made it. It was a series of 2 or 3 injections. I understand that shortly thereafter they stopped manufacturing it as there was so little call for it. Now, I’m no outdoors girl but we used to tramp the conservation properties on a regular basis and I never got Lymes so maybe it worked.

  3. This sounds promising. I’m all for a vaccine that actually works as promised. Polio for example. One shot and you are vaccinated for life. Chickenpox is another great example but you may need a booster years down the road. All tested and safe and have been around for years. And when you take these vaccines you dont get the virus and you don’t spread the disease. And you don’t need several boosters within the year that will only “protect” you from a severe illness but you will still get it? Also this new vaccine will go through years of trials for efficacy and safety. Really looking forward to this and I’ll be one of the first on line when it’s ready.

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