We live in a University city. This has many advantages; it is very beautiful, there are plenty of interesting stuff to do and see, a big teaching hospital, lots of green space and funky cafes. There are also lots of people doing research into all manner of stuff. I can't move for being asked to participate in one study or another. In fact, some researchers looking for participants for their study into new mothers and their perception of body image were the first visitors I had after I had Adam. It was probably a little excessive, I was pretty woozy and a bit fuzzy after a long and fairly traumatic birth and not really up to giving any sensible answers; How did I feel about my body? Er it's pretty shot to bits and needed some more sleep thanks.*
But I'm being mean, some of the studies have been quite fun. There was the one about how children play with adults at different stages of their development which involved going to rooms with lots of new toys for an afternoon. Then there was the one about language development in toddlers which I found fascinating.
Now a new request. We've just been asked if Luke would be able to participate in a new trial for a Meningitis B vaccine. Now, I'm a big fan of vaccinations (read my rant about those who choose not to vaccinate their children on my previous blog here) and both my boys are fully jabbed up with every available jab going. As routine in the UK, this includes Meningitis C, but at present there is no vaccine for Meningitis B, which causes 90% of meningococcal disease in the UK. The researchers are hoping that the MenB vaccine will be as effective at reducing cases of the disease as teh MenC vaccine has been.
The trial vaccine is 'investigational' meaning that they have been approved for use in the study but are not yet licensed for routine use. It isn't the first time the vaccine has been trialled, an earlier study looked at vaccines given to infants. What the study is really after is to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccinations, would it work better given to infants or as part of the jabs the children receive at 3 1/2.
In theory, I should be all for it. Signing him right up. A vaccine for this disease would be a really positive step forward. I've participated in vaccinations trials before, I'm fully innoculated against rabies (and got paid £70 for the priviledge) which was fantastically useful in those times when I was still rushing around the world. But that was my decision, my body. I could read about the risks, weigh them out, balance them up and if there was going to be any side effects, well that would be my problem too. But in this case, if there are any side effects, it isn't going to be me who suffers them. There are a number of side effects reported by the study so far, including fever, convulsions, chest infections, hearing loss and an incident of Kawaskaki's disease, but on the other hand if you read the potential side effects of asprin you'd never take another headache pill again. But, but but. How awful would I feel if my little boy was one of the unlucky ones who developed one of these side effects. Then again, how stupid would I feel if he went on to contract Men B?
So I'm in a quandry. One the one hand a desire to be a good citizen and to contribute to what I believe is a good thing for society. On the other just preferring that someone else did it for me. I'm intrigued to know though, what would you do if it was your child?
*It wasn't actually as bad as that, they did let me get home before the visit when they asked a gazzilion quesions. But it felt a bit like that at the time.