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"I think every teacher this year in grades Pre-K through 8th had kids bringing sanitizers and wiping down desk and all sort of things," said school administrator Crawford Lewis.
The federal government is discouraging the kind of school closures that took place last spring. Still, schools are where infections spread. This makes the race for a vaccine that much more urgent. From Seattle to Baltimore, volunteers participating in clinical trials are rolling up their sleeves.
"I figure this is a great opportunity to be able to contribute to something that's going to help the rest of the nation," said Linda Potter an Emory University volunteer. "So I'm excited about it. I don't have any concerns."
The government is overseeing eight different clinical trials. Flu vaccine makers, such as Novartis and Sanofi Pasteur are conducting their own H1N1 vaccine studies as well. The goal is to determine the correct dose, which is both safe and effective.
"The fewer doses you need, the quicker you can immunize a population," said Karen Kotloff from the University of Maryland.
Researchers are monitoring volunteers closely for side effects which may include:
- Allergic reactions
- Paralysis or even death
Early safety results should be available in September. The first batches of the vaccine aren't expect to be ready for the public until mid-October.
For now local health officials say the H1N1 virus hasn't changed much since we first saw it last spring. The government is conducting the vaccine trial in a compressed timeframe. Officials hope to be prepared in the event the flu strain comes back stronger in the fall.