Getting your annual flu shot in BC is viewed as vital for some and a royal pain for many others.
But would you think differently about it if you only had to get vaccinated once every 5 to 10 years.
Dr. William Shaffner is an Infections Diseases Specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee.
Shaffner explains why the current vaccine can be deemed ineffective and a longer-lasting vaccine would benefit the public. “One of the limitations of the current vaccine is the virus itself mutates and changes itself every year and if we could develop a universal vaccine, one that protects against all the strains we could vaccinate year-round.”
If a new vaccine could latch on to a protein that is constant among all the flu strains it would give people a better chance of not contracting the influenza.
Shaffner adds some of the groundwork has already begun. “We’re getting closer and we have some candidate vaccines like this that are now going in some clinical trials. If everything goes well in 5 or 6 years maybe.”
The current vaccine has also put a strain on the American medical system.
“In the United States, it causes about 200 thousand hospitalizations and some where between 4 and 40,000 deaths each year, we aught to get ourselves vaccinated and it makes us less likely to spread the flu and nobody wants to be a dreaded spreader,” says Shaffner.
According to the World Health Organization, seasonal flu epidemics around the world produce 3 to 5 million cases each year resulting between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths.
The hope is that a versatile vaccine could prevent rare and deadly pandemics.