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Clinical trial for Lyme disease vaccine launches at UVM Medical Center

Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks like this one. A study finds that some people can be reinfected many times with the bacteria that cause the disease.
Lauree Feldman
/
Getty Creative Images
Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks like this one. A study finds that some people can be reinfected many times with the bacteria that cause the disease.

The University of Vermont Medical Center is launching a clinical trial for a potential Lyme disease vaccine, sponsored by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

The hospital's recruiting Vermonters — ages 5 & up — who are healthy and frequently around an environment where ticks are common.

Dr. Benjamin Lee — a study physician on the trial — says data from earlier phases suggests the vaccine is safe.

“And it does appear to generate good immune responses in people who have received it. You know, obviously nothing is guaranteed. But I think there's a pretty high likelihood that this will ultimately prove to be a safe and effective vaccine,” Lee says.

Lee strongly encourages parents to bring their children to participate in the trials. School-aged children are one of the highest risk groups for getting Lyme disease.

“It's a pretty common infection around here. So for folks in this region who value their time outdoors, which is one of the biggest attractions to to Vermont it's just really hard to be able to prevent every single tick bite,” Lee says.

In a 2020 study, the Health Department found that Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in Vermont.

Another iteration of the vaccine study operating out of Brattleboro and Middlebury was abruptly shut down in February.

That's after Pfizer decided the private contractor running the trial did not meet its clinical standards.

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