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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake area pediatricians say if you've got a child under the age of 3, you may want to consider signing up for a clinic trial for the H1N1 vaccine rather than wait in line for your child's shot.
The reason? There will be enough vaccine to go around, eventually, but it could take weeks or months to get the vaccine to everyone who needs it, especially if they're someone who can't take the nasal flu vaccine.
West Jordan pediatric Dr. Keith Ramsey is one of a handful of area doctors taking part in a clinical trial for children between the ages of six months and 35 months (just shy of their third birthday). He says he'll have the clinical trial vaccine available starting Thursday. The official vaccine is still weeks out.
"The health department has said that they expect to get vaccine probably the third week of October," Dr. Ramsey said. "But they also explain that there will be a discrepancy between the number of doses and the demand."
Dr. Ramsey pointed out the H1N1 virus isn't waiting until the third week of October to start making the rounds. It's already here, with both cases and hospitalizations up in the last couple of weeks in Utah.
"Waiting weeks or months to get the vaccine may actually be to your detriment," he said.
On top of that, the highest rate of hospitalizations is in children 4 and under.
"They're what we call naïve, or in other words, they have no immune response," Dr. Ramsey explained.
With many of the initial doses coming in the form of a nasal flu vaccine, it will make it more difficult for some of the more high-risk people to get a vaccine they can take.
"It won't be available to children under the age of 2, won't be for pregnant women or health care providers who have patients that are immune suppressed, or also children who have wheezing, or who have had wheezing in the last year," he said.
Dr. Ramsey says the advantage to taking part in a clinical trial instead of waiting for the official vaccine later this fall is that you are protected sooner, and a doctor is monitoring any side effects or complications closely.
The trial in which he is taking part is open to healthy children between six months and 35 months of age, who:
- Have not had the flu in the last 6 months
- Have not received a seasonal flu vaccine in the week prior to the clinical research study vaccination
- Will not receive a seasonal flu vaccine in the week after the clinical research study vaccination
You can check with your pediatrician to see if he or she is taking part, or contact Dr. Ramsey at (801) 253-2273.