University of Iowa Hospitals test H1N1 vaccine - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University of Iowa Hospitals test H1N1 vaccine

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Monday was the first day of testing for the H1N1 flu vaccine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. UIHC is one of only 8 sites across the country that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chose to test the vaccine.

Doctors say the National Institute of Health wants fast results, so manufacturing of a vaccine can begin as soon as possible.

Tom Senneff is one of 140 volunteers being injected with the experimental vaccine at the UIHC location. He hopes its effects on his body will help doctors immunize thousands against the virus. "My granddad always used to teach me that the only measure of a man is by what he does for other people," said Senneff.

He's part of two groups being tested; people ages 18 to 64, and 65 and up. Over the next several weeks, Dr. Pat Winokur will be monitoring the safety of the vaccine. "We're asking patients to keep track of their temperatures and their symptoms," Winokur told us. She'll also be looking for signs of effectiveness.

"In two weeks, I think they're going to draw some more blood, and that's when they'll start checking on whether or not antibodies have started to form in my bloodstream," Senneff said.

He'll get two different-size doses, to see which works the best. But Dr. Winokur says it's possible that one type of vaccine may not be enough. "There may be a need for getting two vaccines for H1N1." In addition to the regular flu shot, Dr. Winokur says that could result in a logistal nightmare for doctors offices.

"They're hoping to get some data in 21 days. And then they get the second dose, and the data for that dose will occur at day 42."

At that rate, an H1N1 vaccine may not be available until early November. Supply is another concern, and Dr. Winokur says priority groups would need immunizations before anyone else. Those include children 6 months to 18 years of age, pregnant women, and healthcare workers.

The vaccine will be tested on adults before children under 18, for safety reasons. Doctors say it's very possible a vaccine for children will not be ready by the beginning of this school year, when the likelihood of transmission of the disease will be much higher.

The University of Iowa says it needs more volunteers in the age 65 and up group. If you want to participate, you can call their number at 356-4848.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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