New Flu Shot Promises to Prevent Seasonal Flu

Flublock, the newest FDA-approved flu shot, uses DNA technology to stop the flu.

Flu Shot
Syringe photo via Shutterstock

The flu is all anyone can talk about these days (and with good reason–we reported last week that Boston already had more than 700 confirmed cases, and that number is up to 900 now). People are looking for ways to avoid illness this season. HealthDay reported today that the key may be in a new vaccine that can prevent the seasonal flu.

The shot is called Flublock, and it uses recombinant DNA technology to stop the flu. According to HealthDay, unlike most flu shots, which are made with the influenza virus and eggs, Flublock uses an insect virus called baculovirus to produce a protein called hemagglutinin (HA) which most antibodies that prevent the flu are programmed to attack. The FDA has approved the medicine for those ages 18 to 49.

Though the report says the shot has side effects similar to those associated with the traditional vaccine and is roughly as effective (44.6 percent as compared to this year’s 45 percent effective injection), Flublock’s best features are its adaptability and its efficiency. Since the flu mutates every year, the vaccine can be altered each season to fit the new strain, meaning it will provide the most up-to-date protection. Plus, the new vaccine can be produced far more quickly than traditional types, an especially beneficial feature in years (like this one) when demand is high:

“This approval represents a technological advance in the manufacturing of an influenza vaccine,” Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in the news release. “The new technology offers the potential for faster startup of the vaccine manufacturing process in the event of a pandemic, because it is not dependent on an egg supply or on availability of the influenza virus.”

After the nightmare of this flu season, we say any advance in vaccine technology is a good one.