By Kelly Werthmann

LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – We hear a lot about vaccines these days, especially for COVID-19 and the flu. Now, volunteers are needed to take part in a study that could protect us from another virus that often hits this time of year – Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV.

(credit: CBS)

Most parents have likely heard of RSV as it’s often diagnosed in infants and toddlers. The virus causes lung infections that can become severe. However, many may not realize RSV is dangerous for seniors, too.

“RSV has been around for decades, and many people have heard of it or know about it because kids can get the virus. Turns out, so can adults in particular adults that are 60 and above, and nearly a couple 100,000  end up in the hospital every year,” said Dr. Clint Flanagan of Nextera Healthcare in northern Colorado.

Sadly, some 14,000 older adults do not survive from RSV each year. That’s a big reason why Dr. Flanagan is helping Tekton Research with clinical studies as a principal investigator to develop a vaccine for the virus.

“Now we’re in phase 3 where we’re looking to enroll 30,000 people across the world,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “About half will get the vaccine, half will get the placebo. Then we’ll watch those people for the next couple of years or so to see who does better.”

(credit: CBS)

Among those taking part is 88-year-old Norman Cook of Longmont and his 60-year-old daughter, Lorri Koctar. Neither knows if they received the vaccine or the placebo as it is a blind study, and both said they are feeling great and have not experienced any side effects.

“It’s been a wonderful process and I’ve actually enjoyed it,” Koctar said. “I’ve learned a lot.”

Koctar said she first learned of the RSV vaccine study on Facebook. She told her dad about it and they both decided to take part. Cook said he never heard of RSV until his daughter told him about the study, and that’s when he learned the virus can also cause pneumonia.

“My mother died back in 1939 with pneumonia,” he said. “I thought, well maybe she had the RSV and they hadn’t discovered that at that time. So, I thought I’ll just participate in the study in hopes that it’ll help somebody.”

Thanks to Cook and his daughter, researchers are that much closer to helping millions around the world.

(credit: CBS)

“The information and the research thus far has gotten us to a point where we’re pretty sure this is looking pretty good,” Dr. Flanagan said.

However, the study is far from over and more volunteers are needed. Participants must be 60 or older to enroll. Those interested can visit www.tektonresearch.com to learn more and sign up for the study.

Kelly Werthmann