University of Iowa participates in RSV vaccine study

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – An RSV vaccine could be on the way. The University of Iowa is participating in a vaccine trial testing a Pfizer RSV vaccine.

140 people from the area are taking part in the experiment. The vaccine was given to people over 60 years of age. The hope is to find protection against the currently rampant virus. The state’s latest figures show 938 positive cases, up from 810 the week before.

“Treating these diseases is supportive,” said Dr. William Ching, Pediatric Hospital Physician at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids.

RSV can be dangerous, especially for young children and the elderly. It’s been around for decades and there was no protection. Several companies are working to change that.

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

Danette Frauenholtz from Iowa City participated in the vaccine study.

“You can’t get good results if people aren’t willing to participate, so I wasn’t really concerned about side effects and things like that,” Frauenholtz said.

She says she has not experienced any side effects.

Pfizer is also testing an RSV vaccine in pregnant women with the goal of passing the antibodies to newborns. Young children are among those most affected by the virus.

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

Meanwhile, health officials are asking people to be vigilant over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We’re not asking people to avoid your Thanksgiving gatherings because that’s a big request, but be aware that we’re going to expect a big spike after Thanksgiving,” said Dr. Ching.

“Be really careful with those who are susceptible again, especially very young babies and frail or older adults,” urged Dr. Winokur.

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

“It’s the only way we can contribute to the future and our children and grandchildren and things like that by developing new things and new medicines that will really improve their lives,” Frauenholtz said.

dr Winokur said that at this time of year there is a large spread of respiratory diseases. Health officials are recommending people get two vaccines, which are available to try and help. This includes getting the flu shot and making sure you are up to date on COVID-19.