University of Iowa participates in RSV vaccine trial

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 3:28 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -An RSV vaccine could be on the way. The University of Iowa is participating in a vaccine trial that’s testing out an RSV vaccine from Pfizer.

140 people in the area are taking part in the trial. The vaccine was given to people over the age of 60. The hope is to find protection against the virus which is currently running rampant. The latest numbers from the state show 938 positive cases, that’s up from 810 the week prior.

”The treatment for these illnesses is supportive,” said Dr. William Ching, a Pediatric Hospitalist at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids.

RSV can be dangerous, especially for young babies and the elderly. It’s been around for decades and there hasn’t been protection available. Multiple companies are working to change that.

”Pfizer and Glaxo both have RSV vaccines and both of them are signaling that the efficacy of the vaccine is strong enough that they’re going to go to FDA and ask for approval,” said Dr. Pat Winokur, Executive Dean in the Carver College of Medicine at University of Iowa Health Care.

Danette Frauenholtz of Iowa City participated in the vaccine trial.

”You can’t get good results if people aren’t willing to participate so I didn’t have a lot of apprehension about side effects, things like that,” Frauenholtz said.

She says she hasn’t experienced any side effects.

Pfizer is also testing an RSV vaccine in pregnant women with a goal of having the antibodies pass along to newborns. Young babies are some of the most severely impacted by the virus.

”They’re seeing efficacy in the babies in that study so that’s one of the other really exciting things about this vaccine that I think will intrigue the FDA,” said Dr. Winokur.

In the meantime, health officials are asking people to be cognizant over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We’re not asking people to avoid your Thanksgiving gatherings because that’s a huge ask but be aware that we will be expecting a large surge after Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Ching.

”Be really careful around those that are vulnerable again especially really young babies and the frail or older adults,” Dr. Winokur urged.

The hope is that there will be a vaccine to offer protection in the seasons ahead, with trials already underway.

”It’s the one way that we can help contribute to the future and our children and grandchildren and that kind of stuff with coming up with new things and new medications that will really make their lives better,” said Frauenholtz.

Dr. Winokur said this time of year there is a lot of spread of respiratory illnesses. Health officials are recommending people to get two vaccines that are available to try and help. That includes a flu shot and making sure you’re up to date when it comes to COVID-19.