Why there's no good excuse for not getting the flu shot

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Even though only between five and 10 per cent of the population will get influenza this year and the immunization is only about 60 per cent effective in an average flu season, Northern Health representatives still think it's a good idea to get the shot.

Fact: Immunity from the flu vaccine doesn't "wear off", but the vaccine must be reformulated every year in an effort to match the most common circulating strains.

Because flu viruses mutate rapidly, researchers have found it hard to develop a flu vaccine with long-term protection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 40 million Americans contracted influenza during the 2015-16 flu season and 970,000 people were hospitalized for the ailment.

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The seasonal flu shot contains weakened or dead versions of flu viruses. Other strategies include developing vaccines aimed at the virus's protein coat, other proteins that have been found to be identical in multiple flu strains, or the stalk of the hemagglutinin protein rather than its head.

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. A unit of Australia's CSL, the company is using a massive former Novartis plant in North Carolina for its cell-based flu vaccine production.

Flu viruses mutating rapidly within a short period of time is the major problem faced by researchers, thus confusing them on the characteristic of the flu which basically changes with each passing year. The eggs are then allowed to incubate, and in turn, this allows the virus to replicate.

Flu can be a serious illness, particularly for young children, older adults, and people with certain long-term health conditions like asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. The fact that the sugar molecule is chemically glued to a site on the virus's surface close to where human antibodies, our immune system watchdogs attach is important. The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can not transmit infection. "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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