H1N1 swine flu trial set to start, volunteers needed

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - H1N1 Swine Flu and the vaccinations to protect people from getting sick are in the testing phases. One of those tests will take place right here in Richmond at the Children's Pavilion at VCU Medical Center. It is set to begin in just a few days. We have what you need to know to get involved and how to keep yourself protected.

6 and a half month old Haley is too young to take part in the trial, but it's a trial her mother Lisa McCulloch is supporting, all for her daughters' safety.

"Speaking to my pediatrician about if, and when she should get the vaccination," said Lisa.

It's a vaccination still in its testing phases, for many reasons.

"This is a novel. This is a new vaccine for us and we are very concerned to make sure people can be protected if you do not have natural immunity," said Dr. Linda Meloy, VCU Pediatrician.

Children ages 3 to 9 and adults older than 65 years old can take part in this trial. If you've reached your 9th birthday, you can not take part. You must be healthy and not have been diagnosed with the flu in the last 6 months.

You'll get two swine flu vaccinations at two different times and have your blood drawn 5 times. This all is set to start possibly by the end of next week.

"You want to get involved because you want protection. If you are healthy you want to be in so we can know if this vaccination works," said Dr. Meloy.

In this tough economy, don't let any possible costs keep you away. The trial is free, parking is here and there is even money allotted to pick you up if need be.

For the time being, Lisa is getting prepared.

"Keeping my fingers crossed that she is healthy though the flu season," Lisa said.

Of course there are still several questions and concerns about this trail vaccination at VCU Medical Center. That's why doctors are working hard to make sure every question is answered.

One of the biggest questions is just how many shots will be needed.

"There are different doses because we aren't sure what dose will be sufficient," said Dr. Meloy.

It's the timing of this trial so close to flu season makes it even more important, especially for mothers like Lisa McCulloch.

"The mother part of me is def worried. I rather do as much as possible and learn ahead of time," said Lisa.

To get involved, you can call (804) 628-0100 or send an e-mail to h1n1@vcu.edu.

Also, you can call that number above even if you have questions about the swine flu, but do not want to take part in the study.

As for the price of the vaccination when it becomes available, that is still up in the air. Dr. Meloy thinks 2 doses of the vaccination will be needed, but that may change as the trial wraps up. Right now, she is waiting on a shipment of the vaccination to begin the trial. She adds, although she plans on starting it possibly on September 11th, it may happen on a weekend.

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