Independent researchers have indicated that they are a step closer to developing a vaccine that would give full, life-long protection to all types of the flu.
At present, due to the numerous and varied strains of flu that exist and constantly change, people have to be vaccinated with different flu vaccines each season, however after promising trials in animals a new universal vaccine may mean a one-size-fits-all jab for all strains.
The researchers also hope that the developments could lead to the protection of the public from dangerous, potentially pandemic, strains that jump from birds or pigs into humans such as the recent swine and bird flu outbreaks.
Two independent studies (1 and 2) published in peer-reviewed journals, Science Express and Nature Medicine set out to develop a vaccine that would prepare the immune system to deal with different types of flu viruses in the future.
Both studies managed to develop separate vaccines that were able to protect mice from normally lethal doses of flu, and one of the vaccines reduced symptoms of fever in monkeys.
This is obviously a step in the right direction in the search for a universal vaccination, however as the research has only been conducted on animals there is an obvious requirement for additional research to ensure the vaccine’s safety and efficacy before it is administered to humans.
Given the above it may be a while before a vaccination is available to the general public therefore, you should always take the following precautions to help the prevention of flu:
- make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water
- clean surfaces such as your keyboard, telephone and door handles regularly to get rid of germs
- use tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in a bin as soon as possible
Additionally, ensure to go for your free vaccine if you fall into the below categories:
- over the age of 65
- very overweight (with a body-mass index over 40)
- children and adults with an underlying health condition (particularly long-term heart or lung disease)
- children and adults with weakened immune systems
(Information courtesy of NHS Choices).