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Lyme vaccine trials to take place on Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket

Léon McGregor

Lyme disease vaccine trials planned for Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are garnering a lot of interest, according to officials on the Vineyard.

“A lot of people are calling, trying to find out how they can sign up for the study,” said Maura Valley, health agent in Tisbury.

“It would be great to have this vaccine available to people, just because Lyme disease is so prevalent on the island,” she said.

The Islands have been selected among other sites for the trials.

The vaccine, called VLA15, is being developed by French vaccine company Valneva and Pfizer.

Patrick Roden-Reynolds, director of the Martha’s Vineyard tick program, said he’s glad to see the trials happening on the Islands.

“Tick-borne disease is a major problem here,” he said.

The Islands have a much higher rate of tick-borne disease than the state as a whole, he said.

Last year, the rate of emergency room visits for tick exposure in Dukes and Nantucket Counties was more than five times that of the next-highest county, Berkshire County, according to state data.

For the Phase 3 trials, researchers are looking for participants as young as age 5. Adults and children who volunteer will receive either the vaccine or a placebo.

Valley said participants are expected to receive their first dose in August or September, then another about 60 days later and a third in the spring.

VLA15 is the only Lyme disease vaccine currently in clinical development, according to Pfizer.

The trials are expected to last about 2.5 years.

Then, the vaccine goes to a CDC advisory committee for review.

More information on participating in the study is available at valorlymestudy.com.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.