A virus mutation is responsible for making last year's flu vaccine less effective.
Flu vaccines that are recommended for this season are either made with inactivated (killed) flu viruses or without flu viruses at all. But the researchers in Nebraska are working to develop a vaccine that uses ancestral genes from four different strains of the flu to provide long-term protection.
"An ideal influenza vaccine would be affordable, provide long-lasting immunity, require few immunizations and would work against all variants of the virus", Weaver said.
"It is important for high-risk individuals with health problems, elderly, or babies under six months old, to avoid public events and crowds in order to decrease exposure to the virus", Carrillo emphasized. Some protection is better than no protection from what can be a very serious illness. The eggs are then allowed to incubate, and in turn, this allows the virus to replicate.
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Those hospitalized were sickened by influenza Type A (H3N2), a strain typically associated with more severe symptoms, said Malia Nogle of the Spokane Regional Health District. The fluid in the eggs is then removed and purified to get enough of the virus strain to make the vaccine. The vaccine 2016 had been "updated" to include the new version of this mutant protein but without much success, he says. "There is no doubt that there is a need for more effective vaccine technologies". The molecule is a type of sugar, hence the reason it's being called a glycosylation site.
"Our experiments suggest that antigens of the influenza virus grown in systems other than eggs are probably more likely to trigger an immune response by producing neutralizing antibodies to the H3N2 viruses in circulation", said professor Hensley.
Flu vaccines aim to protect us by priming our immune systems. "Current H3N2 viruses do not grow well in chicken eggs, and it is impossible to grow these viruses in eggs without adaptive mutations", Dr. Hensley explained.
"Our experiments suggest that influenza virus antigens grown in systems other than eggs are more likely to elicit protective antibody responses against H3N2 viruses that are now circulating", Hensley said.