Here are some updates on the flu vaccine.
NIAID Media Availability: A Flu Vaccine that Lasts
Why do we have to get the flu shot every year? Because each year, the strains of the influenza-causing virus are different and the vaccine manufacturers try their best to keep up with the rapidly evolving strains. However, this process of constantly producing new vaccines for the seasonal flu is costly and time-consuming, not to mention getting on the nerves of the public. But hopefully, this will change eventually. Scientists at teh National Institutes of Health (NIH) are looking into the possibility of making a universal influenza vaccine, a vaccine which would confer long-lasting immunity. Scientists at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believe this could be possible someday.
“Making such a universal influenza vaccine is feasible but licensing it may require innovation on several fronts, including finding new ways to evaluate the efficacy of vaccine candidates in clinical trials.”
Bacteria Seek to Topple the Egg as Top Flu Vaccine Tool
The process of vaccine is dependent upon chicken eggs. Fertilized eggs are used as live medium to grown the viruses. But this may about to change. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have developed a process of making flu vaccines grown entirely on bacteria – thus bypassing the egg completely. According to research leader Dr. John Treanor:
“There are a number of problems with using eggs to produce flu vaccine. It’s a very specialized product. It’s hard to make more eggs in a hurry – you only get them as fast as hens lay them. They’re not easy to manipulate, and it can be challenging to get the flu virus to grow within an egg. The flu vaccine system would be more flexible and reliable if we didn’t have to rely on them.”
This is also good news for those with egg allergies who may have problems tolerating the vaccine.
2009 H1N1 vaccine safe and induces robust immune response in people with asthma
People with asthma were among those who were seriously affected by the 2009 H1N1 flu. Researcher have analyzed clinical data of the effect of the H1N1 influenza vaccine on those who had asthma and reported the following findings:
- A single dose of vaccine was safe and induced a strong immune response predictive of protection [in people with asthma].
- Individuals over the age of 60 who have severe asthma may require a larger dose of vaccine.