SCARNG Prepares for Flu Season

65-year-old Nebraskan dies from the flu, DHHS advises others to get vaccinated

Fact: The flu shot cannot offer 100 percent protection against the flu, but it can reduce your risk of getting it and reduce the risk of flu-related complications such as hospitalizations or even death.

With influenza season around the corner, the Five Hills Health Region is gearing up for it by opening its flu clinics as of October 23. The traditional seasonal flu shot typically contains weakened or dead versions of flu viruses. You can have some side effects after vaccination, but this is not flu illness.

Vaccine producers have made flu shots with eggs for decades, but a new study says the manufacturing process curbed the efficacy of last year's shot and warns that the problem could repeat this year.

Conventional vaccines have been shown to be less than 60 percent effective when they're successfully matched to the now circulating strain.

Yet because the influenza virus mutates rapidly and because people, animals and birds often carry the virus without displaying symptoms, it's been hard to develop a vaccine with long-term effectiveness.

The goal is to combine the desired HA and NA antigens from the target strain (flu strain 1) with genes from a harmless strain that grows well in an egg (flu strain 2).

Flu vaccine is available in Pueblo.

"An ideal influenza vaccine would be cheap, provide long-lasting immunity, require few immunizations and would work against all variants of the virus", Weaver said.

The vaccine is different each year because the virus changes frequently - so it's important to get it every fall. The mice protected with the new vaccine survived exposure to "lethal doses of seven of nine widely divergent influenza viruses".

The current strain of H3N2 emerged during the 2014-15 flue season and remains prevalent today. These statistics demonstrate "that there is a need for more effective vaccine technologies", Weaver argues.

It takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect. Once injected, these viruses stimulate the body's immune system to act against a protein that extends from the surface of the flu virus.

"Our experiments suggest that influenza virus antigens grown in systems other than eggs are more likely to elicit protective antibody responses against H3N2 viruses that are now circulating", Hensley said.

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