University of Iowa researchers are working to help prevent a disease from decades past from becoming a future weapon. Volunteers are needed to test a new type of smallpox vaccine. Dr. Pat Winokur, a U-of-I professor of internal medicine, says it’s an important research project.
Winokur says: "This continues to be part of the government’s push to prepare itself in case of some type of biowarfare event. Smallpox is one of the agents they’re concerned could cause serious disease if it were released intentionally into our population." She says they’re in need of volunteers in their late teens through their mid-30s who can make several trips to Iowa City over the coming weeks.
Winokur says they’re looking for people who are 18 and older, who were born after 1971, and they need 215 healthy individuals who have not taken part in other vaccine trials. She says this trial is designed to test the ability of a new smallpox vaccine called "Imvamune" to produce a strong immune response using the body’s defense system.
Winokur says the U.S. stopped using smallpox vaccines in 1971, so that’s why they’re looking for people born after that year. She says most people who’ve had the vaccine have a telltale scar on their arm or hip where they got the shot as children. The C.D.C. says the U.S. -does- have a large enough stockpile of smallpox vaccine to vaccinate everyone in the country who might need it, but the new vaccine being tested promises to be more potent and with fewer side effects. For more information on the study, call (319) 384-7245.