PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A new vaccine trial is underway at The Miriam Hospital, but this time it’s not for COVID-19.
The new vaccine targets Lyme Disease, and Dr. Timothy Flanigan hopes that dozens of Rhode Islanders will take part in the trial.
“The burden of Lyme and other tick borne diseases is very substantial, and our patients suffer very considerably, not only with acute illness but also with the long-term [after effects],” Flanigan said.
Flanigan is the co-director of the Lyme Disease Center at The Miriam. He said the hospital is now conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial of the vaccine and is requesting teenagers take part.
“They’ve already enrolled the adults and [the results] show that it’s well tolerated,” Flanigan said. “Now they’re enrolling teenagers and kids over the age of five. That’s, I think, very exciting because Lyme really effects kids but also often the research in children is left far behind.”
Flanigan said during the trial, two-thirds of the participants will receive the vaccine while the others will receive a placebo.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2019, Rhode Island had upwards of 500 confirmed cases of Lyme Disease.
Flanigan said Lyme Disease is transmitted through infected black-legged ticks and can result in fever, headaches and the characteristic bullseye rash. Long term, the disease can also have impacts on the joints, heart and nervous system.
“We’re learning it’s very similar to long-term COVID,” Flanigan said. “We know that our patients who have recovered form COVID, their PCR is negative and they still have terrible fatigue, and we think it’s due to inflammation.”
This is not the first time a Lyme Disease vaccine has been put to the test. Flanigan said one was released in 1998, but that vaccine was pulled due to its side effects in 2001.
“This is a more refined, more targeted protein,” he said. “So the hope is this will be equally protective without any side effects.”
Parents who are interested in enrolling their children can do so by contacting Study Coordinator Evelyn Hipolito by calling (401) 793-8788 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.