January 23, 2018 – Flu Vaccine


Anchor lead: Why is the flu vaccine falling short this year? Elizabeth Tracey reports

The flu vaccine is produced in chicken eggs, and takes a long time. That’s one problem with current vaccines according to Andrew Pekosz, a flu expert at Johns Hopkins.

Pekosz: The second thing, which is particularly a problem with the H3N2s is sometimes when we put those viruses into eggs, they start to change. And they change in ways that may make those surface proteins look a little bit more different, from the circulating virus that it started with, and then when the vaccine is used it generates an immune response that doesn’t completely cross react with the circulating virus. :22

Pekosz insists these problems can be overcome.

Pekosz: There are ways that we can make better flu vaccines. It’s as much of a manufacturing problem as it is a scientific problem. There’s a lot of infrastructure devoted to making flu vaccine the way it is right now, it takes a lot of investment by those companies to change the way they make flu vaccines and that’s been a sticking point. :20

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.