Health experts urge residents to get flu shots

Flu Virus

New research from Penn's Perelman School of Medicine suggests the low efficacy of the 2016-17 flu shot - about 20 to 30 percent effectiveness, compared to an average of about 50-60 percent - was likely the result of a mutation in the H3N2 strain of the virus.

Because the study was conducted in mice, it's too soon to say whether the vaccine would successfully work in humans. "The ultimate goal is to be able to vaccinate once and provide lifelong protection", lead study author Eric Weaver, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in a statement.

Though an early arrival of the virus is no indicator that the entire season will be bad, health officials are urging residents to get flu shots.

The Pueblo City-County Public Health Department confirmed the first hospitalizations from the flu in Pueblo County Tuesday. "Now is a good time to get the flu vaccine as the vaccine takes about two weeks for protection to set in", Carrillo added.

After vaccinating the mice, the researchers infected them with nine strains of the flu - including strains of H1N1, H3N1, H3N2 and H5N1- at a dose that typically kills mice. You can't get the flu from the shot because the vaccine contains viruses that are inactivated or severely weakened. They are antigenically similar to the strain of vaccine.

One of the most promising strategies-creating a vaccine that targets the "stalk" of a protein that covers the flu virus-is a strong one, but it isn't completely bulletproof. The eggs are then allowed to incubate, and in turn, this allows the virus to replicate.

Scientific American explains all the medical details very simply - In 2014, the H3N2 virus began wearing a new molecule on one of its surface proteins. Interestingly, the sugar-adorned viruses are not found in vaccines made using other methods.

Flu vaccines aim to protect us by priming our immune systems. "Our data suggest that we should invest in new technologies to significantly increase the production of influenza vaccines that do not depend on eggs", he argued. "Current H3N2 viruses do not grow well in chicken eggs, and it is impossible to grow these viruses in eggs without adaptive mutations", Hensley said.

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