An Improved Flu Shot On The Horizon?

November 26, 2012

You’re probably familiar with the dozens of problems facing the current flu shot: it takes years to develop, and requires a guess at which strains will be active when it’s in use, it’s not that successful when compared to the standard of most vaccines, the flu shot’s side-effects can, for those with weakened immune systems, be worse than gambling with getting the flu in the normal course of things.

But there’s a new flu shot being researched: one based on flu RNA. Rather than chase flu mutations, teaching the body to recognize the flu’s unique RNA as a pathogen could help give broader, longer lasting immunity. Using RNA rather than DNA should also avoid scary side-effects like accidental genetic splicing with your own DNA (but this is where further testing is required: theory and practice don’t always match up!).

Plus, with longer immunity (possibly life-long), it would mean that getting the flu shot while young and healthy gave you a better shot at avoiding flu shot side-effects. As it is now, having to get the flu shot yearly, everyone is a year older, and their immune system a little weaker, when they’re exposed to the flu shot.

For those who don’t like vaccines because of preservatives: the RNA based vaccine would be more hardy and wouldn’t require refrigeration, etc., between its production and use. (Plus, even if they cover their bums by adding preservatives anyway, it’s one exposure vs. yearly).

Do you get the flu shot now? If not, would you try the new one for the life-long, broader immunity?

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