New Flu Vaccine Works Better Than Typical Flu Shot, But Only A Little


A new kind of flu vaccine has been tested to work better than the conventional flu shot among seniors but not by much, the government reported on June 20.

Traditional flu vaccines barely succeeded in keeping individuals 65 years old and above out of the hospital, resulting in just 24 percent effectiveness. Flucelvax, the new vaccine in question, did yield better results, but it's not too significant an uptick — it was only around 26.5 percent effective among the same age group.

But inroads, no matter how small, should be considered important in the grand scheme of things, says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flu expert Brendan Flannery.

The US Needs Better Flu Vaccines

"The big problem is still the same — we need better vaccines. But these incremental improvements are very important," Flannery said.

The findings were presented to a panel that advises the government when it comes to recommendations on vaccines.

Flucelvax is produced by generating viruses in animal cells, very much unlike the vast majority of flu shots in the United States, which are typically created in chicken eggs. Having gone through one of the most pernicious flu seasons in over a decade, it's crucial the country finds a much better vaccine in case worse flu strains arrive in the coming years. The CDC estimates flu shots were only 40 percent effective against all forms of flu strains last season. Furthermore, they were less effective when it came to flu that caused people to get sick.

Cell-Based Vaccines Might Be A Better Solution Against Influenza

Researchers are discovering that chicken egg-based flu shots aren't significantly effective against flu — and for years, they've recognized that this kind of vaccine can cause problems. Cell-based vaccines are believed to yield better results.

"The data aren't final yet, but I'm comfortable saying that I think it's going to be about 20 percent improved efficacy for the cell-based vaccine relative to the egg-based vaccines," said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Seqirus, a company specializing in pandemic preparedness via vaccines and the maker of Flucelvax, said it was encouraged by the results. Additional analysis will follow. The more experiments conducted, the better. Hopefully scientists finally crack the formula in creating most effective vaccine against influenza.

"We're looking for all the incremental improvements we can get," said Edward Belongia, of the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin.

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