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The fentanyl crisis is still a problem in West Texas, but a potential vaccine could help

The new medicine could benefit drug addicts who struggle with opiate addiction, as well as law enforcement personnel who seize fentanyl.

ODESSA, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott has been addressing a fentanyl crisis in the state of Texas.

Just recently, a big batch was caught crossing from Mexico to Presidio, but there's new developments in the fight against the drug.

A vaccine for fentanyl has been developed by the University of Houston, and it certainly could have an impact on West Texas. 

The vaccine develops antibodies that will stop fentanyl from getting to the brain, which could subsequently save lives. 

A vaccine for fentanyl is getting closer to clinical trials in humans, and the potential game-changing medicine could help two groups in particular in the Permian Basin.

Drug addiction is common in West Texas, and that is one group that could benefit. 

With opiate addicts being among the most common type of drug addict to relapse, if they are vaccinated against fentanyl, it could save their life if they take an opiate that may be unknowingly laced with fentanyl.

The Springboard Center in Midland is an addiction treatment center for drugs and alcohol, and they have seen fentanyl become more of a problem in the area. 

“It’s only a matter of time, typically, before that kind of drug makes it to West Texas, [the] Permian Basin, but it’s rampant, it’s out there and like I said probably a lot more available than people think," said Dr. Terry Beck, Medical Director of the Springboard Center. 

Not only is fentanyl in West Texas, but the fight against it may get even tougher.

“I think that, you know, it’s definitely a problem in West Texas, and it’s not getting better," said Beck. "I see it as increasing, and it’s just a matter of time before it gets worse.”

Law enforcement personnel are aware of the dangers of fentanyl, as they are tasked with seizing it. 

The vaccine could help protect them too in the event that they may be exposed to fentanyl during the seizure of it.

"You know it would be a fantastic tool to help our people, our law enforcement community, our first responders, medics, paramedics, whatever, to help keep them from getting possibly overdosed by accidental exposure," said Mike Griffis, Sheriff of Ector County. "I think it's a great, a great step forward."

Griffis also said that he does not believe any of his officers have been exposed to fentanyl at this point in time, but they are proceeding with caution and he advises everyone to do the same. 

With the threat of fentanyl still very much present in our community and state, the exact timeline for when the vaccine may be available is unknown at this time. 

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