Improved flu vaccines fast-tracked after 'horrific' season

PIC Supplied

PIC Supplied

According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza kills upward of 56,000 people each year, especially in really bad years like this one, and can send more than 700,000 people to the hospital.

Studies in Canada and the United States have shown, unsurprisingly, that the vaccine is ineffective against H3N2 - 17 per cent in Canada, and 25 per cent in the United States.

The CDC said it doesn't have enough evidence to make a recommendation to the public regarding which of the 12 vaccines is most effective for the current flu season.

More than 1100 people across Australia died from the flu past year, with majority over 65.

From the start of the flu season on October 1 through February 10, the most recent data available, the Indiana Department of Health reports that six people in Shelby County have died of the flu and its complications, unchanged from the week before.

This year's vaccine is less effective against the strain of virus making the rounds.

Dr Schuchat said the CDC continues to recommend getting vaccinated with this year's flu shot, even if you've had the flu this season.

These antigens put the immune system on high alert for that particular strain of a virus, so that the body is primed to attack it over any other pathogen.

Bacteria, fungi and viruses all can cause pneumonia, according to the CDC website; worldwide, pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5. He says some people are even getting sick a second time because there are different flu strains circulating.

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Low effectiveness of the flu vaccine is often blamed on problems with how the vaccine is designed and produced.

In the USA for the most deadly strain of flu, H3N2, this year's vaccine is actually performing slightly better than in Canada and Australia.

Steve Jones, pharmacy manager at CVS, said earlier this year they ran out of Tamiflu, an antiviral available by prescription, but have a pretty good stock now.

Still, drugmakers are scrambling to produce a better vaccine called a "universal vaccine".

And if you don't have the flu, but just a cough and cold, there is a New Mexico cure for that, said Jones.

So far, Sanofi has made about $617 million in profits since flu season began, and GSK's vaccine business grew by about 76 percent.

This year's flu shot was created to protect against influenza A/H3N2/Hong Kong, A/H1N1/Michigan and B/Brisbane. New vaccines grown without eggs, either in insect cells or dog kidney cells, are much less prone to developing mutations that can make them less protective against the flu.

Fluad is a trivalent vaccine containing an adjuvant to boost protection.

"It is important to note that the flu vaccines are inactive viruses". They also acknowledge that more research is needed to determine if vaccine effectiveness changes between egg-based and non-egg-based vaccines.

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