Tag Archives: influenza

Certain flu vaccines are not recommended for all ages


It is time for your 2013-2014 flu vaccine.  However, do take your doctor’s advice before vaccination. Certain flu vaccines are not recommended for all ages. For example, CDC recommends that one brand of inactivated flu vaccine called Affluria, should not be given to children 8 years of age or younger. A related vaccine was related with fever and fever – related seizures in young children in Australia. More about side effects below.  Young children who get inactivated flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13) at the same time may be at increased risk for seizures caused by fever. Ask your doctor for more information. Tell your doctor if a child who is getting flu vaccine has ever had a seizure. You may also read “Why am I feeling fatigued after taking the flu vaccine?

Avoid Pain Reliever with Flu Vaccine
Although your first reaction would be to take a fever or pain reliever along with the flu vaccine – you may want to avoid this action. Common pain relievers dilute the effect of the vaccine. Click here to read the views of the University of Rocherster Medical Center. Quote

“What we’ve been saying all along, and continue to stress, is that it’s probably not a good idea to take common, over-the-counter pain relievers for minor discomfort associated with vaccination,” Phipps said. “We have studied this question using virus particles, live virus, and different kinds of pain relievers, in human blood samples and in mice — and all of our research shows that pain relievers interfere with the effect of the vaccine.”

Unquote.

Egg and/or latex allergy?
What if you have an egg and/or latex allergy? Consult your doctor. The answer is in this previous article.  However, there is a major update for individuals with egg allergy waiting to be vaccinated – Flublok.  In 2013, FDA has approved Flublok, for 18-49 year old, which is not developed in eggs but in insects. Hence, Flublok may be suitable for adults (but not children, teens and seniors) with egg and/or latex allergy.  Traditionally, the flu vaccine has been developed in eggs.  To learn more you may read a previous article, “Tracking the history of the development of the flu vaccine”, by clicking here.  The ability to develop the flu vaccine in insects instead of eggs is heralded as a boon to egg allergic individuals.  However, since it has been newly introduced in 2013, it remains to be clinically tested in individuals other than adults and hence, is not yet FDA approved in children, teens and seniors, since their immune system is different than a typical healthy adult.

A Flu Virus

A Flu Virus

Please, discuss with your doctor.  It is highly recommended to take the flu vaccine to avoid hospitalization and other secondary complications from a flu infection.  It is highly contagious.  Certain age groups are more susceptible than others.  The Centers of Disease Control of USA reports a total of 12,343 hospitalizations that occurred from October 1, 2012 through April 30, 2013, which translates to a cumulative rate of 44.3 influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States. The total number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported to CDC for 2012-2013 was 146 in USA. While the vast majority of the tested virus samples (>99%) showed susceptibility to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir, some varieties showed resistance. Watch an animated video of how the flu virus enters, and multiplies inside the human body.

Why do I feel fatigued after my flu vaccine?
The vaccine composition is changed every year. The WHO meets twice a year to discuss the varieties of flu strains causing flu infections and hopes to include the most “popular” strains in the flu vaccine composition (see below for for the 2013-2014 composition). However, the vaccine can accomodate a maximum of three to four flu strains. There might be a new flu strain that emerges later in the year. There might be a fifth or sixth flu strain also causing infections. The flu vaccine assists an individual in easing the “suffering from symptom” period. Therefore, a person who has the vaccine can still get the flu from a flu strain not included in the vaccine but the symptoms will be weaker. This is because the flu strains differ from each other very slightly and most of their characteristic proteins are included in the vaccine, hence “teaching” the body’s immune system to be ready to fight the flu infection.

There can be a slight fever and other side effects (see below) after the flu vaccine.  The symptoms would start right away and last 2 to 3 days. This might happen if the flu vaccine composition includes one or more flu strains that were not included in the previous year’s vaccine composition. If the individual has never been exposed to 1 or more of the flu strains in the vaccine, the immune system might react with symptoms like the flu. It is the immune system getting ready. The individual does not get flu from the inactivated flu vaccine and the live flu vaccine is too weakened to cause the flu. You may also read “Why am I feeling fatigued after taking the flu vaccine?

Related Articles:
The compostion of the 2013 – 2014 trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere
Tracking the seasonal flu, The History of the Flu Vaccine and The Flu Vaccine of 2011

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The compostion of the 2013 – 2014 trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere


The compostion of the 2013 – 2014 trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere:

The World Health Organization has met in Geneva Switzerland in February 2013 to decide upon the composition of the Influenza or flu vaccine composition of the upcoming 2013-2014 flu season. A quote from their decision is below:
quote

Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2013-14 northern hemisphere influenza season

21 February 2013
It is recommended that trivalent vaccines contain the following:

an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virusa;
an A(H3N2) virus antigenically like the cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011b*;
a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.

It is recommended that quadrivalent vaccines containing two influenza B viruses contain the above three viruses and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virusc.

a A/Christchurch/16/2010 is an A/California/7/2009-like virus;
b A/Texas/50/2012 is an A(H3N2) virus antigenically like the cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011;
c B/Brisbane/33/2008 is a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

* It is recommended that A/Texas/50/2012 is used as the A(H3N2) vaccine component because of antigenic changes in earlier A/Victoria/361/2011-like vaccine viruses (such as IVR-165) resulting from adaptation to propagation in eggs.

For more information

Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2013-14 influenza season – full report
pdf, 229kb

Unquote
You may also want to read our follow up article, “Now is the time for your 2013 – 2014 flu vaccine“.

The Flu Virus

The Flu Virus

The 2013-2014 flu vaccine composition differs from the 2012-2013 and from the 2011-2012 flu vaccine composition. See below.

The Northern Hemisphere’s 2012-2013 seasonal influenza vaccine be made from the following three vaccine viruses:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
  • an A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus (from the B/Yamagata lineage of viruses).

While the H1N1 virus used to make the 2012-2013 flu vaccine is the same virus that was included in the 2011-2012 vaccine, the recommended influenza H3N2 and B vaccine viruses are different from those in the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere.

The Northern Hemisphere’s 2011-2012 seasonal influenza vaccine contain the following three flu viruses:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus;
  • an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus;
  • a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

Related Articles:
Now is the time for the 2013-2014 flu vaccine
The History of the Flu Vaccine Development
Flu vaccine and Egg Allergy
The world’s top influenza (Flu) research laboratories decided to institute a self-imposed moratorium
Why am I feeling fatigued after the flu vaccine?

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The proportion of flu and pneumonia related deaths is now slightly above epidemic threshold

For the first time in USA, the Influenza (Flu) season of 2012 – 2013, has become an eipidemic. Which means, there is a good chance either you or somebody you know is sick from the flu. This flu season is unlike the previous year’s mild flu season and totally took the people by surprise.

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January 16, 2013 · 11:03 pm

Should my baby get the flu vaccine?


The CDC says that infants younger than 6 months cannot get the flu vaccine. In this case, the role of the caregiver is important and hence, they must remain healthy and may wish to follow the CDC recommendations on precautions and advie for caregivers of children younger than 2 years old below. An excerpt:
Children Younger Than 6 Months at Higher Risk

Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because children younger than 6 months cannot get a vaccine, but are at high risk for serious flu-related complications, safeguarding them from influenza is especially important. This fact sheet provides advice to help caregivers (for example, parents, teachers, babysitters, nannies) protect children younger than 6 months from the flu.

Unquote.

For information on Egg free vaccines you may wish to click here.

CDC advice for caregivers of children below 2 years of age:
1. Take time to get the flu vaccine
2. Take everyday preventive steps – washing your hands often, covering mouth, keep baby 6 feet away from sick people, keep hands (and germs) away from face
3. Talk to doctor about antiviral drugs: which are most effective in first two days of illness

The CDC advises ensuring the infants cold or flu does not progress into pneumonia. Actively seek out advice on how to prevent flu from progressing into pneumonia.

Here is a study by pediatricians that shows that most babies begin to get sick with flu after they are 6 months old.  The mother’s ability to fight the flu virus is transmitted to the child while pregnant and does offer the new born to six month child a healthier start to life. However, a third of the new borns under six months did get the flu in this study. The Centers of Disease Control of USA (CDC) recommends that all infants above 6 months be vaccinated annually against the flu. You may click here to read the CDC recommendation on December 2012.

You may want to discuss with your pediatrician if your child is more than six months old. Maternal immunity transferred to the infant may postpone the need to immunize the infant. However, since two – thirds of the infants over 6 months in this 1997 study did get the flu, the discussion with the pediatrician becomes important. Also, the infant is getting a number of other immunizations and the expert discussion will allow you to avoid an unnecessary vaccine.

If the flu season is particularly harsh like in early 2013, then it might be advisable to not delay the discussion on immunizing your child over 6 months of age. The CDC does not recommend getting a child under 6 months getting the flu vaccine.

To read the scientific research article entitled “Influenza virus infections in infants” published in the Pediatric Infection Disease Journal click you may want to click here. It was published in 1997 but the results still apply.

The authors of this study are:
GLEZEN, W. PAUL MD; TABER, LARRY H. MD; FRANK, ARTHUR L. MD*; GRUBER, WILLIAM C. MD†; PIEDRA, PEDRO A. MD

Prevent the fluids from collecting in the ear and causing a ear infection.

Related Article
History of the flu vaccine
Egg free vaccine

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The world’s top influenza (Flu) research laboratories decided to institute a self-imposed moratorium


Should research work that attempts to make the H5N1 virus more potent, virulent, dangerous and transmissible under laboratory conditions be allowed? A meeting will be held in New York in July that will discuss whether the voluntary ban should be lifted.

The controversy over influenza risky levels of research ban and non-publication issues began over research by Netherlands researchers. They took an influenza (flu) virus that previously could only infect birds. They selected mutations from Influenza (Flu) viruses that had caused human pandemics with millions of deaths in 1918, and other years. They combined these mutations with the bird (avian) flu virus and passed it through ferrets. The reason they passed it through ferrets was that these animals most closely resemble how a person behaves when they are sick with the flu – the ferrets sneeze. The flu virus changed a little bit with each passage helped by the scientist to pass it from one sick ferret to a healthy ferret. In the first passage the scientist had to help or assist the mutant bird virus to infect the ferret by actually introducing it into the ferret. It could not “fly” through the air when the infected ferret sneezed to infect a healthy ferret in the vicinity. However, by the fifth passage onwards, this bird flu virus had mutated or picked up the ability to infect a healthy ferret by “flying” through the air in a sneeze pellet released by a sick ferret. The Dutch scientists could show how a new dangerous flu virus could emerge to cause a pandemic in people by existing previously in birds only, but by picking up mutations in flu virus infecting other animals or people and becoming able to “fly” in the air and infect a population. The scientists feel that knowing this ability will help them arm in advance and better equip governments to prepare in advance for the next pandemic. None of the ferrets died from this infection, a result of genetic engineering and multiple ferret transmission.

This research, by Ron Fouchier, PhD, of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and colleagues, was announced in a meeting of scientists and along with other researchers announcing their research on similar topics. Click here to read the reaction of the other researchers and policy makers present. Derek Smith, of the University of Cambridge, coauthored the second science paper, on June 21, 2012 gave a press release saying that such a pandemic event was in the realm of reality. Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, published online by Nature discovered how the flu virus recognizes and stabilizes on a host cell through a protein during an influenza attack process. (Every human being is made up of several cells, as are all living things like birds, ferrets and plants; just in case you did not have a biology class in school. Also, a virus is not a bacterium. Only bacterial diseases can be cured by antibiotics. Viral diseases cannot be fought or cured by antibiotics).

The Dutch people were pondering on not allowing publication of research that might be dangerous in the hands of the wrong scientist, who might want to hurt all people. This view was contested by other scientists, including Nobel prize winner and head of the National Institute of Health, USA, who believe that the Dutch scientists research and similar research by University of Wisconsin scientists should be published in full. Click here to read what proposals made the Dutch Government reconsider their decision on banning this pubication of a bird flu study.

So, the question here is:
Is it better to be knowleadgeable and thus prearmed and prepared for the pandemic war that could possibly arise in the near future given the three deadly pandemics since the first one in 1918 last century?
Or,
is it better to just wait and see what hits the public with a severe health blow to millions of people (about 50 million are estimated to have died in 1918) and then figure out what flu combination is causing the pandemic and look for scientists available to find a vaccine to prevent further spread?
You may contact via email: r.fouchier@erasmusmc.nl This group did show that …”The transmissible viruses were sensitive to the antiviral drug oseltamivir”….

Related Articles about the controversial flu virus current research
Bird flu study published after terrorism debate ….could start a deadly pandemic among humans. These initial findings were presented last September in Malta at the European Scientific Working group on Influenza meeting to an auditorium packed with fellow scientists and policy makers…
Fouchier anticipates resuming H5N1 studies soon….said the voluntary 60-day moratorium on lab-modified H5N1 viruses expired Mar 20 and added that researchers are waiting for national governments to release their lab biosecurity assessments. These assessments were a component of a plan stemming from a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting of technical experts in February.

Fouchier made his comments during a live episode of virologist Vincent Racaniello’s “This Week in Virology” (TWiV), which was broadcast via webcast from the Society for General Microbiology conference in Dublin, Ireland. Racaniello, a virologist at Columbia University, authors Virology Blog and hosts the weekly virology podcast series.

Fouchier’s group at Erasmus and a University of Wisconsin team led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, conducted experiments that involved engineering an H5N1 virus and an H1N1-H5N1 hybrid, respectively, that were transmissible in ferrets via airborne droplets.

The studies have been accepted for publication in Science and Nature, but advisors to the US government in December recommended against publishing the full details of the studies, due to bioterrorism concerns….
Debate Persists Over Publishing Bird Flu Studies – you may click to hear a NPR discussion on this subject by biosecurity expert D.A. Henderson on the risks of publishing the research.
N.Y. Times: H5N1 ferret research should not have been done – by virology blog shows the New York Times editorial on 8 January 2012, entitled ‘An Engineered Doomsday’.
Mutant-flu paper published: Controversial study shows how dangerous forms of avian influenza could evolve in the wild. By Ed Yong on 02 May 2012 in Nature.com …Kawaoka found that the hybrid virus could spread between ferrets in separate cages after acquiring just four mutations. Three of these allow the HA protein to stick to receptor molecules on mammalian cells, and the fourth stabilizes the protein. “Before we initiated this experiment, we knew that receptor specificity is important,” says Kawaoka. “We didn’t know what else was needed.”…

Related Articles: The Controversial Flu virus papers being discussed above
1. Airborne Transmission of Influenza A/H5N1 Virus Between Ferrets in Science 22 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6088 pp. 1534-1541
by Sander Herfst and colleagues – A report. (…..The genetically modified A/H5N1 virus acquired mutations during passage in ferrets, ultimately becoming airborne transmissible in ferrets. None of the recipient ferrets died after airborne infection with the mutant A/H5N1 viruses. Four amino acid substitutions in the host receptor-binding protein hemagglutinin, and one in the polymerase complex protein basic polymerase 2, were consistently present in airborne-transmitted viruses. ……)
2. Pathogenesis and Transmission of Swine-Origin 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Virus in Ferrets / http://www.sciencexpress.org / 2 July 2009 / Page 1 / 10.1126/science.1177127
3. Severity of Pneumonia Due to New H1N1 Influenza Virus in Ferrets Is Intermediate between That Due to Seasonal H1N1 Virus and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1 Virus. J Infect Dis. (2010) 201 (7): 993-999. doi: 10.1086/651132

Related Articles about the history of the Flu virus and vaccine development
History of the 1918 pandemic and the search for a vaccine
Should I get a flu vaccine this year?
Why am I feeling fatigued after getting the flu vaccine?

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Why am I feeling fatigued after getting my flu vaccine?


Are you or someone you know feeling fatigued or feeling unwell after getting the flu vaccine?

The needle method of delivery of Flu Vaccine

The needle method of delivery of Flu Vaccine

Some vaccines are not for all people. The flu vaccine comes in various delivery formats.  The clear choices are between a needle delivery and a nasal spray delivery. However, discuss with your doctor which option may not be suitable for the very young under 8 and the elderly, whose immune systems cannot handle the live virus in some flu vaccines versus the attenuated virus in other flu vaccines. You may also read “Certain flu vaccines are not recommended for all ages“.

Also, avoid taking a pain killer along with your flu vaccine since they dilute the effect of the vaccine.

The Centers of Disease Control lists the following common reasons for feeling unwell after getting the flu vaccine:

1. People may be exposed to one of the influenza viruses in the vaccine shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before protection from the vaccine takes effect.
2. People may become ill from non-flu viruses that circulate during the flu season, which can also cause flu-like symptoms (such as rhinovirus). Flu vaccine will not protect people from respiratory illness that is not caused by flu viruses.
3. A person may be exposed to an influenza virus that is very different from the viruses included in the vaccine. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or “match” between the viruses or virus in the vaccine and those in circulation. There are many different influenza viruses. For more information, see Influenza (Flu) Viruses.
4. Unfortunately, some people can remain unprotected from flu despite getting the vaccine. This is more likely to occur among people that have weakened immune systems or the elderly. However, even among these people, a flu vaccine can still help prevent complications.

What about people who get a seasonal flu vaccine and still get sick with flu-like symptoms? How about an allergic reaction to egg or latex?
Have you considered an allergy to egg in which the flu virus is traditionally grown? Discuss with your doctor egg free options available this year. If egg allergy is a concern, then you may also read:
Egg Allergy and Flu vaccine : egg free options are available in Europe but not in USA until 2012. Check with your doctor on latest 2013 egg-free flu vaccine options.
Latex Allergy : some needle tips are coated with latex, eg., intradermal delivery of flu vaccine. Please, confirm about absence of latex coated needle tips on package insert. See video on Intradermal Flu vaccine technology  by Fluzone  microneedle, the first intradermal flu vaccine approved using the microneedle technology and available for 2011-2012 flu season.

A Flu Virus

Seasonal influenza vaccine provides the best protection available from seasonal flu—even when the vaccine does not exactly match circulating seasonal flu strains, and even when the person getting the vaccine has a weakened immune system. Vaccination can lessen illness severity and is particularly important for people at high risk for serious flu-related complications

Dual flu infections:
Australian scientists have discussed a “dual flu infection” phenomenon reported by Japanese scientists in 16 students.
1) They reported that vaccination with the regular flu season vaccine resulted in a higher risk of infection with H1N1 and they give their scientific opinion on why that happened in some areas of the world and not in others.
2) They hypothesize that a strand-transcending short-term immunity results. In other words, it is usually rare that two strains of influenza A attack in the same year and so close to the infection by the other strain. If the second strain attacks quickly after the first strain infects, then there is some transient immunity which protects; however, longer this gap this immunity wanes. So, by their theory, dual infections have a gap.

Super immunity:
This is the “holy grail” of flu scientists – to discover the one vaccine that will prevent all strains of flu. Apparently, natural survivors of the H1N1 infection may have a “super immunity” to all known Influenza A strains of the flu virus. A BBC article. describes Dr Patrick Wilson and his colleagues work on this. In my opinion, lets see what happens in the next few flu seasons.However, scientists caution that a vaccine developed to achieve similar “super immunity” results will have to undergo several years of clinical trials before being eligible to be marketed.

Related Articles:
Flu Vaccine
Now is the time for your 2013 – 2014 flu vaccine
The compostion of the 2013 – 2014 trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere
Should my baby get the flu vaccine?
Should I get the flu vaccine this year?
Flu vaccination and egg allergy – do check with your doctor on update 2013 there are egg-free flu vaccine options today. This article shows you the procedure of traditional flu vaccine development

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Should I get the flu vaccine this year?


Although, the 2011-2012 combination in the flu vaccine, is the same as the 2010-2011, an effective way you can protect yourself against a flu virus infection is through vaccination.

The Flu Virus

However, current vaccination approaches rely on achieving a good match between circulating flu virus strains and the isolates included in the vaccine formulation.  The recommendation is made by the World Health Organization  collaborating centers. Such a match is often difficult due to a combination of factors, one being that the recommendations are made six months prior to the initiation of the flu season, and the flu viruses are constantly undergoing change.

What if the formulation of the vaccine this year is the same as the previous year? The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advice that for optimal protection it is safest to get vaccinated against the flu every year. The CDC recommends all people above six months get vaccinated annually; especially the young and the elderly and gives information specific to the 2011-2012 season, including the vaccine formulation, which is exactly the same as the 2010-2011 combination, but is different from the 2009-2010 and earlier combinations. Some non-vaccinated people got quite ill and weak for a very long time in the fall of 2009 from what could have been the H1N1 flu. The vaccinated people apparently were protected or only had mild flu-like symptoms and lost little productive time.

Get vaccinated annually: A Boston.com article by a Globe staff, Deborah Kotz, gives a simple explanation why one needs to get immunized annually in spite of the same combination of strains in the vaccine. If you are naturally infected by the flu virus, your body can retain that immune memory for a life-time. On the other hand, when you are vaccinated by the same flu virus, your body’s immune memory becomes weaker over time, and we do not know currently whether you will have an appropriate immune response if infected next year.

According the CDC, certain people should get advice on whether they should get vaccinated; especially those with egg allergy or latex allergy.

If you have an egg allergy:

A Scientist Cultivating the Flu vaccine in Live Eggs - A labor intensive effort

When you have to make a decision about getting a flu vaccine, which is the vaccine currently grown only in egg in most countries, then you should seriously consider medical supervision because you may have options. They are rather limited in the USA versus Europe and I have detailed current strategies in a previous article on flu vaccination and egg allergy.  The options in Europe are quite different from those currently available in the USA. You may also read “Next generation of flu vaccines coming of age: Cell – based technology may replace egg – based flu vaccines“, by Teddi Dineley Johnson.

What is the combination in the 2011-2012 flu Vaccine? There is an international effort to create that single, life-time flu vaccine, but until then the vaccine combination will need to be reassessed every year. The 2011-2012 combination in the flu vaccine, which is the same as the 2010-2011,  is:

A/Cal/7/2009 (H1N1) – like

A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2) – like

B/Brisbane/60/2008 – like antigens

If you have a latex allergy: There is both the traditional injection version and a new, intradermal version vaccine available this year.  If you have a latex allergy you may want to take advice and choose a latex free version. The package insert says that the dermal version prefilled syringe tip caps (Fluzone) may contain natural rubber latex to which you may have an allergic reaction if you are allergic to latex. The intradermal version is specially designed to not hurt at all, unlike a needle in the arm version, which many find painful. Either way, your choice of vaccination this year will have the same combination of flu virus.

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Flu vaccination and egg allergy


I worked in a flu lab for a year and was part of the team trying to understand the genetic nature of the flu virus. How did it change it’s genetic makeup so quickly each year so that we needed to update our flu vaccination annually? Little did I expect to have to deal with questions on what to do about egg allergy. You see, until recently, all flu vaccines were prepared in eggs. Now, there are some brands available that are not made in eggs. Should a child or adult with egg allergy try to brave the flu season naturally or should they protect themselves by taking a vaccine, until recently only made in eggs?

A flu virus

The Flu photo (from CDC archives http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/images.htm) which shows the external H and N proteins that change to require new vaccine every year and the internal, coiled RNA genetic material.

If you have never had the flu, chances are you may never get the flu. You may want to get expert advice on whether you need any protection at all. If you or your child has gotten the flu in the past, chances are that you and/or your child will get the flu again, and it may be best to get advice from an allergist on the safest vaccination options if egg allergy is an issue. There is an excellent article in the British Medical Journal in 2009 by Lajeunesse and colleagues on egg allergy and flu vaccines. You may also want to see my article on “Should I get the flu vaccine this year?” for the 2011-2012 flu season.

Egg free vaccines have recently been researched and produced using a new technique in a mammalian cell line instead of eggs. Surface antigen, split virion, subunit, split flu, and inactivated flu vaccines are grown in hens’ eggs and do contain residual egg proteins. During the 2008 flu season, some but not all flu vaccines reported maximum egg protein content above 1.2 ug/ml with levels up to 2ug/ml. The proposed safety egg content is less than 1.2ug/ml (0.6ug per dose). Some vaccines often have much less residual egg protein, although still grown in egg cultures, such as virosomal vaccines, which are highly purified.

The youngest and the oldest are most at risk from succumbing to the flu. Certain elderly are recommended a much higher dose of flu vaccine to be effectively protected. It is important to note that egg-free mammalian culture based flu vaccines are now available or under clinical trials and should be given preferentially under expert advise to individuals allergic to egg. If an egg-free vaccine is unavailable, then check the maximum egg content of the vaccine and ensure that it is below 1.2ug/ml. The vaccination should be done in a center experienced in management of anaphylaxis if the doctor advises so. A single dose protocol is effective for individuals with less severe allergy. A 2 dose split protocol is recommended for asthma prone or anaphylaxis prone individuals.

In USA, flu vaccines developed in egg-free manufacture protocols are unavailable. So, if you are allergic to eggs, do visit an allergist. They have a protocol with which they could administer the vaccine. The steps include pricking your arm with egg extracts to elicit an allergy response from which they determine the pros and cons of giving you the vaccine. In Europe, Flugen is under clinical trial and showing promise. Celvapran (Baxter) a pandemic vaccine for A/H1N1 and Optiflu (Novartis) a seasonal flu vaccine have good safety records for egg allergy. You may also read “Next generation of flu vaccines coming of age: Cell – based technology may replace egg – based flu vaccines“, by Teddi Dineley Johnson

It is predicted that the H1N1 will return in 2010 fall around the same time as it did in 2009. The spring flu may have been displaced by the fall flu. If so, then it may be a race against time to vaccinate our kids safely and effectively before the fall H1N1 flu season descends upon us. Take advise, be cautious, and make a wise decision. If you had the H1N1 flu last year, then you may have a level of natural immunity to this year’s H1N1 flu virus. You may not need a vaccine for this flu variety, however, a vaccine would give you a quicker defense response on exposure (booster). This flu season the vaccine includes protection against additional A and B flu varieties called a trivalent protection. This vaccine gives you protection hopefully until next September, unless new flu strains develop before that. There is a race to produce a ‘life time’ flu vaccine targeting proteins of the flu virus that do not usually change every year. Then, one vaccine would give us life time protection. Until then, we have to consider the flu vaccine annually to protect us against the crafty new flu virus strain. I have full confidence in our global flu scientists and believe they can outwit the wily flu virus.

As for eating naturally to prevent the flu, there are oranges, providing vitamin C, there is garlic reputed to keep a family save through many recipes and always ginger, against inflammation. Gargling with salt daily in flu season is very helpful.

This article has been cited by ALLVoices, which covers health news and other news in San Francisco.

 

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