According to the Oregon Health Authority, 10.4 percent of people receiving treatment for substance abuse in 2011 were heroin users. In 2013, it was 13.4 percent — more than 7,000 people. That problem is especially bad in Jackson County.
Local experts say the vaccines currently being tested prevent the effects of the drug by treating it as an antigen.
“It goes in there and grabs onto it before it reaches the brain and prevents it from entering the brain, and therefore, you won’t get any of the euphoric or mental effects of heroin,” said Dr. Darryl Inaba, the Director of Clinical and Behavioral Health Services at Addictions Recovery Center.
Inaba says the vaccines are promising, but side effects at this point are unknown, putting any potential vaccines many years off.