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Scientists Test Universal Flu Vaccine in Mice

Posted 11 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, July 21, 2015 – Scientists report that a universal flu vaccine in mice protected the animals against eight different flu strains. If the vaccine works in humans, scientists might not have to develop new flu vaccines every year, the researchers said. The findings were reported July 21 in the journal mBio. Currently, a vaccine is created each year to protect against the handful of flu strains that are predicted to be the most common during that flu season. And the vaccine makeup is determined months in advance so that manufacturers have time to make the millions of doses needed. "The reason researchers change the vaccine every year is that they want to specifically match the vaccine to the particular viruses that are circulating, such as H1N1. If the vaccine is just a little bit different to the target virus, it is not expected to offer much protection," explained lead ... Read more

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Virus Mutation Explains Poor Performance of Last Season's Flu Shot: Study

Posted 25 Jun 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, June 25, 2015 – The 2014-15 flu vaccine was less effective than expected due to a new mutation in the flu virus, a new study shows. The mutation in the H3N2 virus led to a mismatch between it and the H3N2 strain used to create the vaccine, the researchers explained. This meant that the vaccine did not fully prime the immune system to recognize and attack the version of the virus that circulated during the last flu season. The findings were published June 25 in the journal Cell Reports. Last season's flu vaccine was less than 20 percent effective, compared with up to 60 percent effectiveness of other seasonal flu vaccines used in the past 10 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was known that the 2014-15 vaccine was mismatched with most H3N2 strains circulating during the flu season, but this study is the first to pinpoint the mutation ... Read more

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CDC Tweaking Flu Vaccine for Better Protection

Posted 5 Jun 2015 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, June 5, 2015 – Having acknowledged that the 2014-2015 flu vaccine was mismatched to the circulating influenza strains, U.S. health officials have ramped up next season's shots for broader protection. Flu-vaccine makeup is determined months in advance so that manufacturers have time to make the millions of doses needed. Components of the coming "2015-16 season vaccine have been changed to more optimally match circulating viruses," the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its June 5 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. There also is a version of the flu vaccine called quadrivalent flu vaccine, designed to protect against four flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. Last year, no one saw until summer that the H3N2 strain would predominate, said CDC epidemiologist Lynnette Brammer. Work on the vaccine had begun in February, she said. ... Read more

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Anti-Vaccine Parents Cluster in Rich, White Areas

Posted 3 Jun 2015 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2015 – Parents who cite "personal beliefs" to get their children exempted from routine vaccinations are typically white and well-to-do – at least in California, a new study finds. The results, published June 1 in Pediatrics, confirm what other studies have suggested: Anti-vaccine sentiment in the United States appears strongest among wealthier white families. But the study also found another pattern that surprised experts: California schools with high rates of personal-belief exemptions often had high rates of exemptions for medical reasons, too. "There's no clear explanation for why that would be," said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, who was not involved in the study. But the concern, he added, is that some children exempted for medical reasons could be put at risk if their classmates are not vaccinated against ... Read more

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Seasonal Flu Vaccine Even Less Effective Than Thought: CDC

Posted 26 Feb 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Feb. 26, 2015 – This year's flu vaccine is even more disappointing than previously reported, showing just 18 percent effectiveness against the dominant H3N2 strain of flu, health officials reported Thursday. That's a drop from the 23 percent protection level estimated for the flu shot earlier in the season, said experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The situation for children was even worse. The CDC panel pegged the effectiveness of the injected vaccine for kids aged 2 to 8 to be just 15 percent. And the nasal-spray version of the vaccine may not protect young children at all, health officials said. "Studies can't confirm that the [nasal] vaccine has a benefit," said Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch at CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Why the poor performance? "These low numbers, which ... Read more

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Just Half of Nursing Home Staff Getting Flu Vaccine

Posted 4 Feb 2015 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Feb. 3, 2015 – Only about one in two U.S. nursing home workers gets an annual flu shot, a new study says. "Low staff vaccination rates put vulnerable populations at risk of contracting influenza," wrote the authors of the study in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. As many as 7,300 nursing home residents die of the flu each year, according to the researchers. Researchers from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and Florida Health Care Association surveyed nearly 2,000 employees at 37 nursing homes in Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin and found that only 54 percent of them had received a flu vaccination during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 flu seasons. Previous research found that 72 percent of nursing home residents get a flu shot. Nursing home residents are susceptible to the flu, and high vaccination rates among staff can provide them with ... Read more

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Only 23 Percent Protection From This Year's Flu Vaccine

Posted 15 Jan 2015 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Jan. 15, 2015 – U.S. health officials have hard numbers to back up their warnings that this season's flu shots are less than perfect: A new study finds the vaccine reduces your risk of needing medical care because of flu by only 23 percent. Most years, flu vaccine effectiveness ranges from 10 percent to 60 percent, reported the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the reduced effectiveness of this season's flu shot, "vaccination is still important," said lead report author Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the CDC. "But there are ways of treating and preventing flu that are especially important this season," he added. These include early treatment with antiviral drugs and preventing the spread of flu by washing hands and covering coughs, he said. Twenty-three percent effectiveness means that there is some benefit – a little less flu in the ... Read more

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Many Flu Infections Aren't Good Match for Vaccine: CDC

Posted 19 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 – The flu is starting to tighten its grip on much of the United States, particularly in the South and Midwest, U.S. health officials reported Thursday. And more than half of the flu infections examined so far have been caused by the strain known as influenza A H3N2, which appears to have mutated from the H3N2 strain included in this year's flu vaccine. That mutated strain has federal officials concerned because the vaccine may not offer the protection seen in seasons when the vaccine is a better match. Still, health officials are urging that everyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated, because the vaccine will offer some protection, especially for strains that might become more widespread as the flu season progresses. "Vaccination is our most effective means to prevent influenza and its complications," said Melissa Rolfes, an epidemic intelligence service ... Read more

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Frail Elderly Might Benefit From High-Dose Flu Shot

Posted 18 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 – A high-dose influenza vaccine is better than the standard vaccine for frail seniors under care in nursing homes, a new study suggests. Researchers report that the high-dose shot produces a stronger immune response in this elderly population, a potential sign it will keep more cases of flu at bay. "For frail older adults, the high-dose vaccine appears to be a better option to protect against flu than the standard dose," said study leader Dr. David Nace, of the University of Pittsburgh. "Even in the frail, long-term care population, the high-dose flu vaccine looks like it produces a greater antibody response than the standard dose vaccine." About nine out of every 10 flu-related deaths in the United States are among people aged 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People aged 85 and older in long-term care communities ... Read more

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Vaccinating Schoolkids Cuts Flu in Communities: Study

Posted 15 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Dec. 15, 2014 – Giving flu shots to schoolchildren also protects others, a new study finds. "The effect of school-based vaccination was profound, both on the students and on the community," lead author Cuc Tran, a doctoral student in public health at the University of Florida, said in a university news release. When half of the children aged 5 to 17 in Alachua County, Fla., received seasonal flu vaccinations through a school-based program, the flu rate in the entire age group fell by 79 percent. And the flu rate among children aged 4 and younger decreased by 89 percent, even though they weren't included in the vaccination program. Among all non-school-aged residents in the county, the flu rate declined 60 percent, the researchers found. The study was published Dec. 9 in the journal PLOS ONE. The findings may help communities determine how best to target funding, doses of flu ... Read more

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Many Americans Still Haven't Gotten a Flu Shot

Posted 11 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 11, 2014 – Fewer than half of Americans have gotten a flu shot so far this flu season, which might be a bad sign for a season that could be potentially severe, infectious-disease experts said Thursday. Worse, some people are thinking about skipping this year's flu shot, based on reports that the vaccine could provide only partial protection against what has been the predominant influenza strain this season, doctors said. "That's a big concern," said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chief of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Immunization Section at Public Health – Seattle and King County, Washington state. "We've had many people report that they've heard the vaccine isn't effective so they aren't going to bother this year, or they're questioning if they should bother." Only 39.7 percent of adults and 42 percent of children had received their flu shots through mid-November, ... Read more

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Scientists Find Gene They Say Affects Flu Shot Response

Posted 11 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 11, 2014 – Researchers say they've pinpointed a gene that affects how much protection the flu vaccine gives a person. They analyzed blood samples from more than 200 people who'd had organ transplants. The researchers found that versions of a gene called IL-28B influenced the strength of the immune response trigged by the flu vaccine. Each person has two copies of this gene. The T version of the gene is more common, while the G version is less common. Of the people in the study, most had two copies of the T version. Some people had one copy of the T version and one copy of the G version. A few had two copies of the G version, according to the researchers. The blood of people with at least one copy of the G version of the gene were more likely to have detectable antibodies against the flu strain targeted by the seasonal flu vaccine, according to Adrian Egli, University of ... Read more

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Flu Shot May Offer Less Protection This Winter: CDC

Posted 4 Dec 2014 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 4, 2014 – This flu season looks like it could be worse than usual, due to an aggressive strain of influenza virus that might flout the protection provided by this year's vaccine, U.S. health officials warned Thursday. A strain of influenza called H3N2 appears to be circulating most widely this season, and in the past death rates from H3N2 have been more than double that of other flu strains, according to officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We know that in seasons when H3 viruses predominate, we tend to have seasons that are worse flu years, with more hospitalizations from flu and more deaths from influenza," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a news briefing. To make matters more difficult, about half of the H3N2 viruses detected by CDC researchers so far appear to have mutated, and have genetically "drifted" away from the virus ... Read more

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Pediatricians Urge Flu Vaccine for All Kids 6 Months and Older

Posted 22 Sep 2014 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Sept. 22, 2014 – Pediatricians are urging that all children aged 6 months and older be vaccinated for the upcoming flu season. The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their influenza vaccine recommendations to advise that the youngest kids should have two initial doses of vaccine to build immunity. The AAP also wants parents of children aged 2 to 8 to consider getting their kids the nasal spray vaccine instead of the flu shot if it's readily available. "It's important to get the vaccine as soon as it's available," said lead author Dr. Henry Bernstein, a specialist in pediatrics at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y. The recommendations were published online Sept. 22 in the journal Pediatrics. Last year, slightly more than 100 children died from flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these, almost half had no underlying ... Read more

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Get a Flu Shot During Checkup, Doctor Says

Posted 22 Sep 2014 by Drugs.com

SATURDAY, Sept. 20, 2014 – As flu season approaches, the best way to stay healthy and avoid infection is to get a flu shot and a checkup, according to an infectious disease specialist. A primary care doctor can vaccinate people against the flu, and also address other health concerns or issues patients may have. Retail stores may provide flu shots for their customers, but they can't dole out medical advice, said Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of infection prevention and control for the Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill. "At the doctor's office, the focus is on you and what is going on with your health. This is your time to talk about concerns to improve your well-being beyond the flu season," Parada said in a Loyola news release. "You trust your store employee to help you locate items you want to buy, not to diagnose what's causing a persistent symptom, schedule other ... Read more

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