Medicine

Doctors blame mutation for lack of efficiency in flu vaccine

Doctors blame mutation for lack of efficiency in flu vaccine

The Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that the flu causes about 3,500 deaths each year in Canada alone.

The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccination as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Seasonal flu shots will be available to UO students, faculty and staff on November 9 and 16, from 8 to11 a.m.at the health center.

A number of researchers are investigating different strategies to make a universal flu shot, including developing vaccines that target the "stem" of the hemagglutinin protein (which tends to change less from season to season) rather than the head.

Currently, the difficulty that stumbles researchers is that flu viruses mutate rapidly.

Getting a flu vaccine is the best way possible to protect against getting the virus. They are antigenically similar to the strain of vaccine.

How are flu vaccines made? Those that received higher doses of the vaccine didn't even get sick.

Another illness that some people may not know isn't related to the influenza virus is the stomach flu.

"An ideal influenza vaccine would be low-cost, provide long-lasting immunity, require few immunizations and would work against all variants of the virus", Weaver said. But scientists also have known that when viruses are grown in chicken eggs, they also evolve in these egg hosts.

The current strain of H3N2 emerged during the 2014-15 flue season and remains prevalent today.

Flu vaccines work by priming the immune system with purified proteins from the outer layer of killed flu viruses. However, antibodies elicited in ferrets infected with the current circulating H3N2 viral strain (that contains the new protein) and humans vaccinated with a H3N2 vaccine produced in a non-egg system were able to effectively recognize and neutralize the new H3N2 virus. There are now two non-chicken egg flu vaccines made in the U.S. One is FLUCELVAX, and is grown in canine kidney cells, and the second, Flublok, is grown in insect cells. "Our data suggest that we should invest in new technologies that allow us to ramp up production of influenza vaccines that are not reliant on eggs", Hensley continued.


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