Tuesday, March 6, 2012
New Flu Vaccine to Offer Better Protection
Under recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration, the new vaccine will protect against four strains of the virus.
Written by Steve Pair
The two additional influenza strains are expected to be added to the vaccine in 2013.
Every year the Food and Drug Administration decides which strains of influenza should be included in the next flu vaccine. An FDA advisory panel recently recommended keeping one of the current strains and adding two new strains of influenza to the vaccine. The decision was based on trends and strains being seen other places in the world, such as the Southern Hemisphere.
However, it’s a new vaccine that has captured the attention of many, one that could offer better protection against more strains of the virus.
The new FluMist Quadrivalent will add an additional strain of influenza B to the vaccine. It’s the first flu vaccine to offer protection against four different strains of influenza.
“The current flu vaccine protects against three strains of the virus, two types of influenza A and one type of influenza B,” said Todd Bell, M.D., executive director of the West Texas Influenza Center.
“If you only protect against one strain of the virus, there’s a chance you’ll get the flu from another strain,” Bell said. “The idea of adding another strain of influenza B increases our chances of protection.”
The new vaccine isn’t expected to be available until 2013.
“For one, production of the next year’s vaccine is probably already under way,” Bell said. “Also, they still have to determine which strain of influenza B to include in the new vaccine.”
Each year, flu infections are associated with more than 100,000 hospitalizations and more than 10,000 deaths either directly from the flu or other causes including respiratory and circulatory complications
Bell said it’s important that people get their flu shots, regardless of which strains or how many are included in the vaccine.
“The key thing is that people need to get their flu shots,” he said. “If they do, we’ll save lives in the U.S.”
Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.
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West Texas Influenza Center
Started in 2008, the West Texas Influenza Center strives to provide an interdisciplinary forum at the School of Medicine for research, education and clinical care of influenza illness.
The center is composed of faculty members of the departments of family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.