FLU SEASON 2019
St. Jude Children's ResearchTeam has been selected to Develop a More Effective Flu Vaccine that can attack Multiple Strains
St. Jude & University of Georgia Selected by NIH to Create Stronger Flu Vaccine
MEMPHIS, TENN. –As flu season begins in the Northern Hemisphere, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis today announced that it has been selected by the National Institutes of Health to help create a better, stronger vaccine to prevent influenza.Scientists at St. Jude and the University of Georgia were picked by the National Institutes of Health to begin work on the development of a more broadly effective vaccine against multiple strains of the flu. A more effective vaccine is even more important to the most vulnerable populations, the elderly, small children and individuals with chronic illnesses.
“This is the very beginning, the first steps in the creation of longer lasting vaccines, with the ultimate goal being a universal vaccine.We will begin work towards developing vaccines that are more broadly protective against multiple flu strains. Our priority is vaccines to safeguard populations we know will develop more severe disease if infected,”said Stacey Schultz-Cherry, PhD,of the St. JudeDepartment of Infectious Diseases. She also co-directs the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance at St. Jude and will lead the effort to develop a universal vaccine.
Earlier this month, President Trump issued an Executive Order aimed at developing a better flu vaccine to protect Americans against getting the flu. The directive orders the creation of a flu vaccine task force, with input from federal agencies.
“As work moves forward on development of longer lasting vaccines, this year’s flu vaccine has been reformulated and updated based on last year’s flu season,”said Dr. Richard Webby, a member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team.“It is still too early to make predictions about this year’s flu season, but we do know the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere was very active.”
Dr. Webby, along with fellow World Health Organization Vaccine Composition Team members, met earlier this month in Genevato analyze the flu virus surveillance data from the WHO’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) and issue recommendations on the composition of the flu vaccine. The recommendations are used by the national vaccine regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies to develop, produce and license influenza vaccines.
Dr. Richard Webby, Ph.D., one of a select group of scientists responsible for determining which flu vaccines will be put into circulation each year and who attended the WHO meeting in Geneva, is hopeful about the 2018-2019 flu vaccine composition’s ability to mitigate the virus currently in circulation.
“The bottom line is the flu shot is still the most valuable and life-saving public health tool in preventing and spreading the flu. Getting the flu vaccine isn’t just about protecting your health, it’s also about protecting those around you who are vulnerable like the elderly, children and those with serious health issues. The more people who get the flu shot, the less chance the virus can spread while protecting more people,” Webby concluded.
Simple things like washing your hands regularly, staying home when you’re sick, covering your mouth and nose when you cough, or sneeze will go a long way in protecting yourself and those around you.
Flu is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. In an average year, it kills about 36,000 people. But the toll can go higher, including the 2017–18 flu season included about 48.8 million flu infections in the U.S. and about 79,400 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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