H1N1 Vaccine Being Tested - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

H1N1 Vaccine Being Tested

By Al Pefley  email

West Palm Beach, FL (WFLX)

Help could be on the way for people afraid of getting the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.

Experts are trying to come up with a vaccine that would help prevent the illness.

One doctor from our area says he hopes they get a vaccine approved and the sooner the better. 

Dr. David Dodson, an infectious disease specialist from West Palm Beach, is on the front lines in the fight against H1N1.

Right now, the only thing he and other doctors have to fight H1N1 with is Tamiflu, a pill taken twice a day for five days after symptoms appear such as a fever, cough and muscle aches.

But now there's word of a possible vaccine to help prevent H1N1, a shot that could be given to people before they get sick.

"If we have a vaccine that's safe and effective then that should stop the epidemic in its tracks," Dodson said. 

The H1N1 virus has claimed several lives already in Palm Beach County.

Others, like Aubrey Opdyke a waitress from West Palm Beach,  have been hospitalized but have survived. Doctors were not able to save her unborn baby.

Dodson says once a swine flu vaccine is ready, pregnant women would probably be among the first to be offered it.

"This particular strain of H1N1 affects younger people 20-40 years of age, and particularly pregnant women and children. So logically distributing to those groups first would make the most sense," Dodson said. 

He says one of the amazing things about the H1N1 vaccine is how quickly the researchers have been able to develop it, because the illness didn't really appear out there until March or April. 

"It's really a remarkable thing to isolate a virus and then get all the way to a step where you can actually have a vaccine for it in a period of months. That process used to take many, many years," Dodson said.   He says three vaccine manufacturers are working on the drug.  

Dodson says with any luck, the H1N1 virus will be ready by October. And he says most people will probably have to get two shots this fall, one for swine flu, another one to help protect them from ordinary flu.

He says health departments will get the word out when you can start getting the swine flu shots.  He says human trials are now being done by the Centers for Disease Control to determine if there are any side effects. 

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