The Eighties: Subunit Vaccines
In 1980, the first subunit vaccines were licensed in the United Kingdom and are currently available in several countries worldwide.
In 1978, as a result of a major mutation, a new virus strain, H1N1, appeared on the global epidemiological scene. This strain, which was similar to a virus circulating in 1958, emerged in Russia and began to co-circulate, either simultaneously or alternately, with the previous one .
Antigenic drift, caused by frequent changes in the composition of the virus, determined the need to update the vaccine composition each year. This necessity prompted both the implementation of the first surveillance systems and the production of the first trivalent vaccine, which included three formulation strains , in order to ensure effective protection during the 1978 pandemic.
Antivirals: What To Do When You Already Have The Flu
When you come down with the flu, antiviral medicine can shorten its duration. The FDA has approved six influenza antiviral drugs in the U.S. But theyre all in somewhat short supply, so you might not be given them if youre not a child or elderly. This is why we get our flu shots, people!
The antiviral you probably already know goes by the brand name of Tamiflu, which you can get over the counter with relative ease even if youre not young or elderly. This drug, along with two others that work in the same manner , block an enzyme the virus needs to replicate. They can shave up to a day off your illness, but they need multiple doses to keep the drug working. Tamiflu, for instance, requires patients to take it twice a day for five days.
The newest antiviral, Baloxavir marboxil , is a single-dose antiviral drug approved in 2019 by the FDA. Baloxavir is for people with basic flu who are 12 years and older and have had symptoms for less than 48 hours. In a phase 2 trial published by The New England Journal of Medicine, it shaved off upwards of 28 hours of flu symptoms . This antiviral stands out in that its the only one that gets to the root of replication, messing with the virus RNA to stop it from reproducing. Also, its one of the only ones to come in a single dose, so you can pop it once and forget about it.
The Flu Shot Is Effective
The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu viruses, as well as the health and age of the person getting the flu shot.
The viruses circulating in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.
It is also important to remember that the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. Even when there is a less-than-ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining two or three viruses. If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of flu-related complications.
Getting your flu shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and flu-related complications.
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Who Should Have The Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
The nasal spray flu vaccine is free on the NHS for:
- children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2021 born between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019
- all primary school children
- all year 7 to year 11 children in secondary school
- children aged 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions
If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years and has a long-term health condition that makes them at higher risk from flu, they’ll be offered a flu vaccine injection instead of the nasal spray.
This is because the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2 years.
The nasal spray vaccine offers the best protection for children aged 2 to 17 years. They will be offered the flu vaccine injection if the nasal spray vaccine is not suitable for them.
Some children will be offered the injected flu vaccine if they have:
- a severely weakened immune system
- asthma that’s being treated with steroid tablets or that has needed intensive care in hospital
- a flare-up of asthma symptoms and need to use a reliever inhaler more than usual
- had an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past
- a condition that needs salicylate treatment
If you’re not sure, check with the school immunisation team, the nurse or GP at your surgery, or a hospital specialist.
The injected flu vaccine is given as a single injection into the muscle of the upper arm, or the thigh for children under 1 year.
The Forties: Inactivated Influenzavaccines
Influenza vaccination had two main objectives: to protect against disease, and to achieve a high vaccination rate in order to ensure protection in unvaccinated people. The first vaccine was an inactivated, monovalent preparation which only contained a subtype of the influenza A virus .
In December 1942, large studies were begun to be conducted on the first influenza virus vaccines these provided the first official proof that inactivated influenza vaccines could yield effective protection against flu epidemics .
The efficacy and safety of inactivated vaccines were first studied between 1942 and 1945 in the meantime, a new strain of flu virus was discovered, the influenza virus type B, which is the main cause of seasonal epidemics, as was the phenomenon of so-called “influenza mismatch”. Influenza mismatch is caused by major and minor mutations of circulating viruses. As a result, the virus contained in the vaccine does not match the circulating strain, determining a reduction in the effectiveness of subtype A influenza vaccines.
A new route of influenza immunization was tested in December 1942, with the subcutaneous inactivated bivalent vaccine containing viruses of type A and type B. The following years, the first bivalent vaccine was licensed in the United States and became available for use in the general population .
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Everyone 6 Months And Older Should Get The Flu Shot
The flu shot is your best defence against the flu. It can save lives by:
- protecting you, if you are exposed to the virus
- preventing you from getting very sick
- protecting people close to you:
- because you are less likely to spread the virus
- who are at higher risk of serious flu complications if they get the flu
The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups.
The Sixties: Split Vaccines
New inactivated compounds were tested for safety and efficacy during seasonal epidemics in the 1960s, in particular two new formulations were created: split and subunit vaccines. The 1968 pandemic led to the development of trivalent inactivated vaccines against influenza viruses moreover the development of new split or subunit vaccines led to a decrease of adverse reactions in children. These vaccines were split using ether and/or detergent, and haemagglutinin and neuraminidase were, in the case of subunit vaccines, purified and enriched .
In the same period, the first flu vaccines were licensed in Europe, while in the US annual influenza vaccination was recommended for individuals at major risk of influenza complications.
In 1968, the new virus strain H3N2 appeared, completely replacing the previous type A strain , and led to another global pandemic with high morbidity and mortality . In the same year, a new type of vaccine, the split vaccine, was authorized in the US after several clinical studies had demonstrated that it was less reactogenic than whole virus vaccines, especially in the early years of life .
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What Is The Difference Between Fluzone High
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent contains four times the antigen, the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against flu viruses, than Fluzone Quadrivalent and other standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines. The higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is intended to give people 65 years and older a better immune response to vaccination, and therefore, better protection against flu. Both Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Quadrivalent are produced by the same manufacturer and are quadrivalent vaccines. There are a number of other flu vaccines produced by other manufacturers.
Can I Get The Flu Vaccine If I’m Pregnant
Yes, it is strongly recommended that you get the flu vaccine if you are pregnant. It can be given in any trimester. Pregnant women are more likely to get severe complications from the flu than non-pregnant women, and it can be dangerous for their unborn baby too. Protection passed from the mother in pregnancy can protect her newborn as well. The flu vaccine has been proven to have an excellent safety record for both pregnant women and their unborn babies. Read more about pregnancy and immunisation.
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What Is The Influenza Vaccine
Influenza vaccines are nasal sprays or injections currently composed either of live attenuated flu viruses or killed viruses or virus components that, when administered to individuals, generate an immune response that will be strong enough to protect that individual from developing influenza disease. The design of the vaccine depends on how health care providers usually administer it health care professionals usually administer the live attenuated vaccine by a nasal spray , while health care providers typically administer the killed virus by an intramuscular injection , usually into the deltoid muscle. People cannot get the flu from the injected vaccine because the vaccine contains no live virus. However, nasal sprays use attenuated viruses that, in some people , may cause mild flu-like symptoms. Note that health care providers previously did not recommend nasal sprays because of poor immune responses in people as compared to those who get the shots. However, in 2018, health care professionals approved the improved nasal sprays for use in some individuals .
The Asian Flu Pandemic Hits
This was the second major influenza pandemic of the 20th century, killing about 2 million worldwide, including almost 70,000 in the United States. It was caused by a virus known as influenza A subtype H2N2 , a mixed strain many scientists believe originated from a combination of bird and human flu viruses.
Influenza strains are characterized by two proteins on the outer surface of the virus: hemagglutinin and neuraminidase . There are 14 versions of the H protein and nine versions of the N protein, according to the American Council on Science and Health.
The virus was first identified in Guizhou, China, in 1956. It spread to Singapore by February 1957, Hong Kong by that April and the U.S. by June. A vaccine was developed to contain the outbreak in 1957, but the strain would later evolve via antigenic shift into H3N2, causing a milder pandemic between 1968 and 1969.
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How The Vaccine Can Prevent Flu
The vaccine doesn’t cause flu. The nasal spray vaccine contains weakened live viruses that help your child build up immunity to the flu.
If your child has a weakened immune system, they may not be able to handle the weakened viruses in the vaccine. You should tell this to the person giving the vaccine to your child.
A child with a weakened immune system will need the flu vaccine by injection.
Northern Hemisphere Influenza Season
The composition of trivalent virus vaccines for use in the 2017â2018 Northern Hemisphere influenza season recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on August 25, 2017, was:
- an A/Michigan/45/2015 pdm09âlike virus
- an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 -like virus
- a B/Brisbane/60/2008âlike virus
In addition to these components, quadrivalent vaccines will also include a B/Phuket/3073/2013âlike virus .
In California, some emergency systems were strained by a spike in H3N2 flu cases. In addition, some areas experienced local shortages of oseltamivir. The severity of the flu season seemed somewhat comparable to the 2009â10 swine flu outbreak. A February 2018 CDC interim report estimated the vaccine effectiveness to be 25% against H3N2, 67% against H1N1, and 42% against influenza B.
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Flu Vaccination Is Likely To Be Free If You Answer ‘yes’ To Any Of These Questions
- Does your child have asthma and regularly use a preventer medicine ?
- Is your child aged 4 years or under and has a significant respiratory illness or been in hospital for a respiratory illness ?
- Does your child have a heart condition ?
- Does your child have cancer?
- Does your child have an ongoing chest condition, such as bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis?
- Does your child have diabetes?
- Does your child have ongoing kidney disease?
- Does your child have HIV or AIDS, an auto-immune disease or another immune deficiency?
Your child will also need to be entitled to publicly funded health services in New Zealand. You can check the Ministry of Health’s Guide to eligibility.
Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine
Anyone over the age of 6 months can have the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is free for these people, who are considered to be at greater risk of complications from the flu:
- pregnant women
- people aged 65 years and over
- people under 65 years of age with with certain chronic conditions, such as chronic heart disease, chronic liver disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma and COPD
- children aged 4 years or under who have been in hospital for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness, including children aged 659 months who were hospitalised with measles.
Check with your doctor if you are uncertain about whether you qualify for a free flu vaccine. Read more about the eligibility criteria.The vaccination is also recommended if you are in close contact with people with weakened immune systems, as these people may be less able to fight off the flu or are at high risk of complications from it. Frontline healthcare workers usually have the vaccine funded by their employer.
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Scientists Isolate The Human Influenza Virus
Influenza vaccine developmenta high priority for the U.S. military following the deaths of approximately one in every 67 soldiers from the flu during the 1918-1919 pandemictook a major step forward when researchers at the UK’s Medical Research Council were able to isolate the virus from humans.
Virologist Patrick Laidlaw and his team were working with ferrets to develop a distemper vaccine when the animals caught the flu from Wilson Smith, one of the scientists in the laboratory. The team dubbed it the “W.S.” virus, and their discovery made it possible to develop a vaccine.
Why There Is A New Flu Vaccine Every Year
Cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors, and signs for flu shots everywhere. It must be autumn.
Just like pumpkin spice, the annual flu shot has exploded in popularity in recent years, increasing from about 12 million doses administered in 1980-81 to over 155 million last year. This is great news for everyone looking to stay healthy and protect the people around them.
Whether you choose to get your flu shot at a doctor’s office like Nu Wave Medical Center where Dr. Gurprit Sekhon and her staff administer vaccinations as part of their full-service internal medicine practice, at a local pharmacy, or during a vaccination clinic, it’s now easier than ever to stay up-to-date on this important immunization.
But why is it necessary to re-vaccinate every year?
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Avian Flu Threat 1997
The next significant threat to emerge in influenza came again from Asia, where an avian influenza infected birds and then spread to humans. A number of humans became ill and died from the virus.
The outbreaks were particularly severe in 2003-2004, when tens of millions of poultry and waterfowl died from the flu. The virus, however, did not spread from person to person, but only among birds and then to humans. The lack of human-to-human spread limited disease incidence. After widespread destruction of poultry flocks, the threat diminished. The threat of bird flu remains, however, in that another deadly strain could arise that would be capable of spreading from human to human and causing a pandemic.
Viral Strains And Producers Of The Seasonal Flu Vaccines For 2020
The following changes and updates are taken from the first reference from the CDC:
The composition of the 2020-21 U.S. influenza vaccines includes updates to the influenza Apdm09, influenza A, and influenza B/Victoria lineage components. These updated components will be included in both trivalent and quadrivalent vaccines. Quadrivalent vaccines will include an additional influenza B virus component from the B/Yamagata lineage, which is unchanged from that included in quadrivalent influenza vaccines used during the 2019-20 season. For the 2020-21 season, U.S. egg-based influenza vaccines will contain hemagglutinin derived from an influenza A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 pdm09-like virus, an influenza A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 -like virus, an influenza B/Washington/02/2019 -like virus, and an influenza B/Phuket/3073/2013 -like virus. U.S. cell culture-based inactivated and recombinant influenza vaccines will contain HA derived from an influenza A/Hawaii/70/2019 pdm09-like virus, an influenza A/Hong Kong/45/2019 -like virus, an influenza B/Washington/02/2019 -like virus, and an influenza B/Phuket/3073/2013 -like virus.
Two new influenza vaccine licensures are described:
A summary of 2020-2021vaccines is available in an extensive table at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/2020-2021/acip-table.htm.
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People At High Risk Of Complications From The Flu
- people with health conditions, such as:
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- kidney disease
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid