LEHMAN TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As we get closer to active clinical trials for a Lyme disease vaccine, a local medical group has set up a booth at the Luzerne County Fair to recruit participants.
The Luzerne County Fair is up and running with plenty of attractions, but one vendor there isn’t offering food or fun, it has a health purpose in mind.
The vendor believes the Back Mountain is the perfect place for what it’s trying to accomplish, helping to lead the way toward an effective Lyme Disease vaccine.
It turns out Janet Swanger of Sweet Valley is more than just a member of the Luzerne County Fair staff. She’s just become a recruit for phase three of a clinical trial for a Lyme disease vaccine.
“I think this is probably a pretty good thing to do,” said Swanger.
Besides living in a rural area, the Sweet Valley woman can often be found in areas where deer ticks carrying Lyme disease are known to exist.
“We’ve been camping different state parks. We do a lot of hiking. We’re up here working on the grounds cutting grass and stuff and we have a small deer population here,” Swanger explained.
Care Access and The Medical Center in Kingston teamed-up to make this mobile sign-up possible.
“Most of the people that are probably going to enter into it are going to be people that are outdoorsy, you know, in the woods. Camping, hiking, fishing, you know, hunting, anything like that. This is the perfect spot for it,” said John Weikel, Regional Patient Educator of Care Access.
Pennsylvania with all of its rural locations is a prime state for ticks carrying Lyme disease.
“Over the last 22 years, I don’t even have a count of how many ticks we have taken off of patients,” Doctor Philip Mertz of the Medical Center in Kinston explained.
So many ticks, but no approved vaccine.
“We always asked, why is there no vaccine? Animals have it. My dog gets it,” Doctor Mertz commented.
Now that Pfizer is entering the 3rd phase of its clinical trials, that could change within a couple of years.
All that’s needed are enough healthy participants 5-years and older who are willing to give the Lyme vaccine a shot.
“You have an opportunity to change the future by getting enrolled in this study and showing that it does actually prevent,” Doctor Mertz explained.
Participants will be paid $50 per visit with the number of visits expected to be seven.
The Medical Center in Kingston is one of a couple of Lyme Vaccine Trial Clinic sites in the Wyoming Valley.
To learn more about the vaccine, head to ValorLymeStudy.com, or call the Medical Center at 570-288-4205 for more information.