August 11, 2009 in Nation/World

Eight cities testing swine flu vaccine

Cheryl Wittenauer Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Carolyn Atherholtz receives an H1N1 flu vaccine from nurse Wendy Nesheim at Emory University in Atlanta on Monday.
(Full-size photo)

ST. LOUIS – Hundreds of Americans in eight cities are lining up for experimental swine flu shots in a race to get a vaccine out in case the new flu virus regains strength this fall and winter.

Sharon Frey, who is leading the government-funded testing at Saint Louis University, said scientists have been working late nights and weekends to organize the studies and recruit volunteers.

“Typically it takes a year to do this,” said Frey, an infectious diseases expert. “I can tell you we’re working at breakneck speed.”

About 2,800 people will participate in the government-led studies. Saint Louis University will test 200 adults and 200 children. Also under way are separate studies by five flu vaccine manufacturers under contract with the government.

Health officials expect to have about 160 million doses available this fall, with the first batch sometime in September. The studies will test the safety and effectiveness of vaccines developed by drug makers and help determine dosage and whether it can be given with a seasonal flu shot.

It’s possible the government will begin a public vaccination campaign before all of the work of the trials is complete, Dr. Anne Schuchat has said. She oversees the flu vaccination programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The other study sites are Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Emory University, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, University of Iowa, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Vanderbilt University.

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