Want $3,000? Volunteer to get the flu

BY Sarah Corapi  January 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM EST

The National Institutes of Health will study how the body reacts to the flu virus in the hope of improving future vaccines.

Sniffles and sneezes aren’t enough to deter a few brave individuals from participating in one of the latest studies from the National Institutes of Health. In the hopes of making a better flu vaccine, NIH scientists are purposely infecting dozens of volunteers with the influenza virus, The Associated Press reports.

If you’re bold enough to volunteer, the flu — plus up to $3,000 in compensation — can be yours.

The study aims to see how the body reacts to influenza at each stage of infection. Dr. Matthew Memoli, an infectious disease specialist at the NIH, believes the study will ultimately shed light on how to improve vaccines.

“Vaccines are working, but we could do better,” says Memoli. It makes sense when you consider that the vaccine is least effective in the group that is most susceptible to the virus: those age 65 and older.

But the knowledge that may be gained through the study comes at a high cost: the flu does kill thousands of Americans each year. Participants must be quarantined in an isolation ward for at least nine days, their health closely monitored. Yet as flu specialist Dr. John Treanor of the University of Rochester Medical Center puts it, the results of the study could be key in future flu prevention.

“It’s all going to add up to a better understanding of what you need to have to be protected against the flu.”