Hoover company testing swine flu vaccine

HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - Alabama may be just days away from learning how effective the swine flu vaccine is in preventing the spread of the potentially deadly virus. A Hoover-based company is one of only a handful of sites around the country testing the vaccine on patients.

"This one has gotten a lot of media attention which has put pressure on us to develop a good vaccine," said lead researcher Dr. Rick Kilgore of Clinical Research Consultants, Inc. "All we can hope is that we've done our small part, the drug is safe, it does its job and stops this virus dead in its tracks and we don't have the predicted deaths that we're seeing."

Dr. Kilgore and his team injected 63 volunteer patients at Shelby Baptist Hospital 4 weeks ago, and drew blood late last week to see if the vaccine is producing antibodies to fight off the H1N1 virus, and the first test results are due late this week or early next.

Test patients came back for a 2nd shot this past weekend and there is some good early news, very few side effects.

"There was no inflammation, no itching, redness," said test patient Rick Hoke. "Actually I get a flu shot every year and I had more reaction from that then from this one."

Hoke is one of the test patients who says he's seen no major side effects and was more than willing to risk being a guinea pig if his results help produce a vaccine.

"As far as risk versus reward, being in construction---just having people showing up for work on time, not laying home sick, that in itself is a reward," Hoke said.

Though the process is moving at light speed, Dr. Kilgore says being in a hurry has not made the research sloppy.

"We are sticking to a very strict protocol and these results will not be questionable when they're through," Kilgore said. "We will know exactly what dose to give, we will know the side effects and whether we need to give 1 dose or 2."

Dr. Kilgore says we should know by the middle of next week whether the vaccine is potent enough to protect patients from the swine flu.

He says 3 pharmaceutical companies are ready to work overtime to produce enough vaccines that high risk patients like children may be able to start getting that vaccine in early October, assuming the vaccine works.