South Bend Clinic chosen for new RSV vaccine trial

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--A national, groundbreaking research study is making its way to Michiana! The South Bend Clinic Center for Research is one of many facilities in the country that is taking part in adult vaccine trials for the infectious RSV virus.  

RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a respiratory virus that usually targets and affects young children and seniors. The virus is comparable to the common cold in many ways, affecting mainly the lungs, with symptoms of coughing and difficulty breathing. It normally rears it’s head around the wintertime, but this year it came several seasons early in the summertime, and doctors don’t know why.  

South Bend Clinic Center for Research Medical Director Dr. Jim Harris says in fact most of the children in our hospitals locally now are admitted because of RSV sickness. Its not just kids targeted though. Before the coronavirus, RSV was a major cause of pneumonia in seniors over the age of 65, and still causes around 20,000 deaths per year.  

Dr. Harris says a prevention vaccine against the RSV virus has never been successful in the past, but now due to better technology we’ve gained because of COVID-19, the South Bend Clinic among many other facilities in the country, are taking on a vaccine research trial this year to bring and end to it.  

“We’ve been selected to be part of this national research study. We were selected because we have a great deal of experience to doing vaccine trials, we’ve done the Johnson and Johnson vaccine trial this spring, we’ve also this spring did the meningitis vaccines, influenza vaccines, so something we’ve done for many years. So that’s why we’ve been selected to do this groundbreaking research trial,” Dr. Harris said. 

You must be 60 years old or older to participate in the study, and must generally be in good health. If you have any health conditions though, you must check in to see if there’s a way to work around it. Only a few spots are available, and people are already enrolled. So, if you want to hop on board, you’re urged to call the South Bend Clinic and ask for the research department.  

“Oddly enough with RSV, we’ve never been able to make successful vaccine to help prevent it and so while it’s been a major respiratory illness and infection for many many years, we are just now getting to the point to develop it,” Dr. Harris said. “Because of the highest risk group, we are studying that group first. My guess is that it will spread to other age groups as well, but there are currently trials going on for RSV in children as well right now so those are the two groups that we want to target first of all and then we hopefully expand it to the entire population.”  

It’s a virus, Dr. Harris says, is way more important to keep your eye out for than you know.  

“Even though most people don’t know much about it, it’s a very serious infection.  it's equally important to prevent this as it is influenza or even COVID, so I would encourage anybody that can participate in this age group, to contact us,” Dr. Harris said. 

All of the places participating in the trial will put their data together at the end of the study to come up with recommendations to submit to the FDA. 

The study will only be available for the next 4 weeks, so if you are interested in taking part, make sure you give them  a call as soon as possible.

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