SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) – As families and friends prepare to gather at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, the CDC says more than 2,100 Americans have already died from the flu within the past month.

Ohio went from low levels of influenza to high levels in just the past three weeks. A baby died from the flu in Cleveland just last week, according to Dr. Shelly Senders, President & CEO of Senders Pediatrics.

“People don’t trust the flu vaccines are going to protect them against the flu,” Dr. Senders said.

Regaining trust is one of the goals of a groundbreaking clinical trial now underway at Senders Pediatrics in South Euclid.

Dr. Senders says new mRNA technology in creating the omicron booster shot is now being used to create a more targeted influenza vaccine.

“Currently, we choose the flu vaccine based on the four-strains that are circulating in February in South America,” Dr. Senders said.

Dr. Senders says, based on that information, the vaccine had anywhere between a 35% to 70% efficacy rate.

The trial will determine if the vaccine can now be “tweaked” based on strains surfacing here in the U.S.

“We can give people flu shots in September, and if we see that something changes, that there is a variant that is affecting us, then we can make a new one in November and give people a booster,” Dr. Senders said.

It’s ultimately preventing rapid illness, school absenteeism, hospitalizations and even death.

“Up to 40,000 people die every year from influenza and there’s no reason for that to happen,” Dr. Senders said.

Senders Pediatrics is among the first in the nation to participate in the flu vaccine clinical trial, which began two weeks ago with patients between the ages of 18 and 65.