Flu vaccine trials need volunteers

Children and seniors are sought in particular to test H1N1 shot

Published: Thursday, Aug. 13 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Utahns looking to get a "first shot" at the new H1N1 flu vaccine are now being recruited to take part in local clinical trials.

There's a particular focus on volunteers ages 6 months to 9 years and those 65 and older, according to Matt Longson, spokesman for Jean Brown Research in Salt Lake City.

Word has started to filter out about the trials, and with other studies also under way, the phone bank has been busy, he said.

"We're doing four different studies, and we've already started one of the trials," he said, noting the "blind" nature of the research means none of those involved either in receiving the vaccine or administering it know whether volunteers are getting the real vaccine (75 percent of the time) or a placebo (25 percent of the time).

Those interested in participating may initiate contact with researchers through a phone call or online. An initial health screening is done to determine whether there's some type of medical condition that would disqualify an applicant.

Those who qualify make an appointment to visit the facility, 1045 E. 3900 South, Suite 100, where informed consent documents are provided listing requirements for participation and potential side effects. Questions are answered, a brief physical and medical history are obtained and a blood sample is drawn.

At that point, the injection is given and volunteers are observed for 30 minutes. A second appointment is then scheduled, with a total of three visits on site for each participant.

Longson said participants also keep a diary of any swelling, muscle pain or illness they experience for seven days.

Four trials of the H1N1 vaccine are accepting new participants, most of whom will begin the vaccinations within the next two to three weeks, he said.

A separate trial for those who have had a laboratory-confirmed case of H1N1 is also under way.

"Anyone in the state is eligible to participate, and we'll even pull from Elko and Evanston, but most people don't want to drive that far," he said.

Compensation for time and travel is provided and is different for each study, ranging from $200 for shorter studies up to $600 for longer trials.

Studies will likely be conducted until Oct. 1, "but we'll be doing 90 percent of it in the next two to three weeks."

Longson said the company does tell participants whether they received the vaccine or the placebo, but technically "they've already been vaccinated for H1N1 if they were among the three-fourths of those" who got the real vaccine.

As guidelines for priority vaccination are being devised at the national, state and local levels, children and health-care workers are said to be at the top of the list.

Health officials anticipate the virus will take on renewed strength this fall, once school is in session and people return from vacation to spend more time indoors.

Those interested in participating in the H1N1 clinical trial may call 801-261-2000 or go online at www.jeanbrownresearch.comFor more information

Those interested in participating in the H1N1 clinical trial may call 801-261-2000 or go online at www.jeanbrownresearch.com

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