Get Sick For Cash And Vacation

June 12, 2018

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Would you willingly expose yourself to the flu for some extra cash? How about $3,500 and a free hotel stay? That's what a college in St. Louis is offering anyone who's daring enough to do just that.

Saint Louis University has converted part of its former hotel in the Salus Center into a 24-room research suite to house volunteers who will be intentionally exposed to influenza to see if investigational vaccines keep them from getting sick. The facility accommodates volunteers in hotel-style rooms that are equipped with private bathrooms, TV and internet.

Participants will be given a flu shot or a placebo, and then receive a dose of a flu virus through a nasal spray. The volunteers will then be observed for flu symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, sneezing or coughing. Those who contract the illness will be provided catered meals for up to 12 days, those who don't will get to go home.

Dr. Daniel Hoft, director of the university's Center for Vaccine Development, said "you can learn a lot more, a lot faster" about whether vaccines work to prevent infection by controlling the study environment. The study is expected to take place within the next six months.