Scientists want to create flu vaccine that lasts a lifetime

(WTNH)–This has been one of the toughest flu seasons in years, as 105 people have died so far in Connecticut. Even if you get a flu shot, it has been less effective this season.

This year’s influenza virus has been particularly difficult to fight, as new strains pop up as the season wears on, making it tough to mass-produce an effective vaccine.

Related: Worst of bad US flu season is over as illnesses decline

“Every year it’s a bit of a guessing game to decide what strain of the virus gets put into the vaccine,” said Dr. Mark Rupp of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Before flu season begins, researchers study the influenza strains circulating in the southern hemisphere, allowing them to identify strains that could show up in North America.

How the vaccine is manufactured could be a problem, however. The FDA requires that vaccines be grown in chicken eggs, but some strains, like this year’s H3N2 don’t grow well in eggs.

“The process for the virus to be adapted into the chicken eggs actually caused the virus to change a little bit and because of that change, the vaccine doesn’t fully recognize the wild type strain that’s in circulation,” Rupp said.

Scientists want to create a flu vaccine that lasts a lifetime.

“We need to discover or to define a better universal target so that we don’t have to change the vaccine from year to year, and this target has to allow for long-lasting immunity,” Rupp said.

Until then, doctors recommend that you get the flu shot every year. Even if you get the flu, it can help your body fight back, reducing the amount of time that you are sick.

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