Wednesday, July 29, 2009

U.S. Begins Human Testing of H1N1 Vaccines

Early next month, the U.S. will begin its first human trials of new vaccines against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus. In addition to evaluating safety and effectiveness, researchers are seeking to determine the proper dosage.

Dosage is a particular concern with H1N1 because the last major swine flu outbreak in the U.S. occurred in 1976 -- meaning an entire generation has grown up with no exposure to the disease.

"When a population has not seen a virus, the question becomes: If you give them a vaccine, is one dose enough?" said Sri Edupuganti, MD, an infectious disease physician with the Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Edupuganti serves on the staff of Emory's Hope Clinic, one of eight sites around the country selected to test H1N1 vaccines. She and other vaccination experts say it's likely Americans will require two separate shots to build up full immunity to the swine flu virus.

Because H1N1 differs from seasonal flu, medical experts say it's unlikely vaccines for each virus will offer any crossover protection. So, don't be surprised if you need three shots this fall.

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