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Influenza (cont.)

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Why should the influenza vaccine be taken every year?

Although only a few different influenza virus strains circulate at any given time, people may continue to become ill with the flu throughout their lives. The reason for this continuing susceptibility is that influenza viruses are continually mutating, through the mechanisms of antigenic shift and drift described above. Each year, the vaccine is updated to include the most current influenza virus strains that are infecting people worldwide. The fact that influenza viral genes continually change is one of the reasons vaccine must be taken every year. Another reason is that antibody produced by the host in response to the vaccine declines over time, and antibody levels are often low one year after vaccination.

Because of the vaccine synthesis and distribution problems with the pandemic H1N1 vaccines, a number of companies have begun development of new vaccine synthesis technologies to avoid the variable production quantities of virus and the long growth cycle and purification process in chicken eggs. There are at least five new technologically novel approaches under development (recombinant protein, virus-like particle synthesis, viral vectors, DNA-based vaccines [altered plasmids] and viral vectors that contain specific antigens). The CDC has indicated they plan to overhaul their vaccine distribution system, especially for those instances when a pandemic strain arises. Several vaccines have undergone clinical trials and may be approved for use in the future.

Many people still refuse to get flu shots because of misunderstandings, fear, "because I never get any shots," or simply a belief that if they get the flu, they will do well. These are only some of the reasons, there are many more. The U.S. and other populations need to be better educated about vaccines; at least they should realize that safe vaccines have been around for many years (measles, mumps, chickenpox, and even a vaccine for cholera), and as adults they often have to get a vaccine-like shot to test for tuberculosis exposure. The flu vaccines are as safe as these vaccines and shots that are widely accepted by the public. Consequently, better efforts need to be made to make yearly flu vaccines as widely acceptable as other vaccines. Susceptible people need to understand that the vaccines afford them a significant chance to reduce or prevent this potentially debilitating disease, hospitalization and, in a few, lethal disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/20/2013

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Flu (Influenza) - Symptoms Question: Please describe your flu symptoms.
Flu (Influenza) - Side effects Question: Did you experience any side effects with the flu vaccine?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/influenza/article.htm

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