New help in fight against flu - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New help in fight against flu

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

It's a rite of fall in many parts of the country. When the leaves turn color, for many people that means it's also time to roll up their sleeves for a flu shot. The vaccine doesn't usually provide 100 percent protection, but it can be close, depending on the strains circulating each season.

And now, there's a new flu vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It's called Flublok.

"It's a very good thing for public health because it means that all of those people who in the past had to decline a flu vaccine can now get one," said Patsy Kelso of the Vt. Department of Health.

They had to decline if they were allergic to eggs because traditional flu vaccine is grown in fertilized chicken eggs. But Flublok is the first ever to not be manufactured with eggs, so those with egg allergies can now get a flu shot if they want.

"That means that the more people that are vaccinated, the less flu there is in the community," Kelso said. "So individuals protect their own health by getting a vaccine, and their family's health, but also the health of people around them who they might infect with the flu."

Flublok does have a shorter shelf life than traditional flu vaccine, so it may be challenging for health providers trying to determine when, and how much, to order. But on the plus side, it can be manufactured much faster.

"If we had a pandemic for example, and we had a new flu virus circulating and we need to quickly produce large numbers of vaccine, we could us this new technology to produce more vaccine more quickly," Kelso said.

It's another tool to fight a virus that sickens, and sometimes kills, thousands each year across the country.

Like traditional vaccine, Flublok is a trivalent vaccine, meaning it protects against three different strains of virus each year. It will be available to those 18-49.

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