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Shot in the Arm: The Swine Flu Vaccine Trial

WebMD reporter Daniel DeNoon volunteers for an H1N1 swine flu vaccine study.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Day 15 -- Friday Aug. 28, 2009

Wow. I am almost disappointed that I'm perfectly fine. No skin reactions. No soreness. No muscle aches. No drama.

And no flu, although a single dose of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine probably offers no protection. NIH Director Tony Fauci says that my experience is typical -- those of us who got the swine flu shot haven't had any unusual reactions.

Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts

Swine Flu Slideshow

Learn more about the H1N1 swine flu and see what you can do to stay healthy.

View the slideshow.

Earlier this week, I went to a two-day swine-flu symposium for journalists featuring all of CDC's top researchers (and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, too). They say they expect the first 45 million doses of the swine flu vaccine to arrive in about six weeks, on or about Oct. 15.

I sure hope they're wrong about one thing. If it really is going to take two doses of vaccine to ward off swine flu, it won't be until Thanksgiving -- or, for many of us, until Christmas -- that protection kicks in.

My next set of shots comes next week. That means I'll have a 75% chance of having had at least two swine flu shots by then. It's supposed to take two to four weeks after the second shot to be protected -- so I'm still washing my hands every chance I get and carrying a handkerchief in case I cough or sneeze.

Why? Looking out my window from WebMD's Atlanta offices, I can see the Georgia Tech campus. They've already got about 100 suspected flu cases there.

Day Two -- Saturday Aug. 15, 2009

I'm sitting on a hillside in Atlanta's Piedmont Park, surrounded by about 50,000 people. It's 6 p.m., and in just a couple of hours Paul McCartney will be on the huge stage erected nearly overnight in the meadow below me. My cell phone rings.

It's Becky Gerkin, one of the nurses at Emory's Hope Clinic. "Hi," she says. "Just checking to make sure you're OK."

I tell her my left arm is a little sore, but no other symptoms. In fact, I feel great.

I tell Becky that I've been taking my temperature every day at 4 p.m., and that it's been running about a half degree above what I think is normal for me, but never higher than 99 degrees F.  I tell her where I am, that I've had a beer, and and that I hope it's OK to have a couple more.

Becky sighs. "Nothing in the protocol against that," she says.


Day Zero -- Thursday Aug. 13, 2009

It's really the first day, but they call it Day Zero. It sounds dramatic, and it is.

I'm sitting on the examining table. A nurse approaches with two syringes. Either one, or both, may hold the brand new swine flu vaccine. Brand new, as in "not yet tested in humans."

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