What if you could wipe out your risk of getting the flu in one "shot"?

Researchers are currently developing a one-dose influenza vaccine that's expected to eliminate the need for annual influenza vaccines. The hope is that this will provide a convenient and effective way to keep asthmatics and others safe from the seasonal virus and the related complications that often arise.

How Annual Flu Vaccines Work

At the present time, flu vaccines need to be repeated every year because the influenza virus mutates into new strains, making last year's flu shot ineffective against this year's illness. As a result, pharmaceutical companies are constantly hard at work predicting the upcoming flu strain and developing the right vaccine formulation that will offer appropriate protection. Because the timeframe for this process is usually quite rushed, sometimes there isn't enough of the vaccine available to meet public demand.

In addition, some people worry about vaccine side effects and may voluntarily decide to skip being vaccinated. These scenarios leave a large number of people unprotected against the seasonal flu, which can be a serious issue particularly for people with asthma and other respiratory issues.

Why the Universal Flu Vaccine is Different

The universal vaccine provides a welcome alternative. Instead of targeting the differences in the influenza strains each year, this one-dose vaccine will address the elements of the flu virus that don't seem to change over time. By identifying and focusing on the flu protein that remains constant in all different types of influenza strains, researchers believe that it's possible for one vaccine to address them all and keep the virus at bay even as it evolves and changes. This will enable people to get a one-time flu vaccine the same way they receive other one-time immunizations.

Waiting for the Universal Flu Vaccine

While the concept of the universal flu vaccine is very promising, it's still in the very early stage of development. Therefore, public health experts expect it to be another five or ten years before it becomes available for the general public. In the meantime, there are some important things you can do to protect yourself from getting ill.

Take Care to Avoid the Flu

It's essential that you continue to get your traditional seasonal flu shot. Additionally, take common sense precautions to help minimize your chances of getting sick. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing your hands often with soap and hot water, using an alcohol-based sanitizer when water isn't available, and keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, since touching them can spread germs. Of course you should also steer clear of other people who are ill.

If you have asthma, be vigilant about following your asthma action plan since having this respiratory condition can make it difficult for you to recover from the flu. Use your asthma medications as directed and monitor your breathing capacity so you'll be aware at the very first sign that your asthma could be kicking in. If you do get sick, talk to your doctor about increasing your medications to prevent complications. These small steps can add up to big benefits in helping you have a healthy winter.




Turley, Christine B. et al.  "Safety and Immunogenicity of a Recombinant M2e-Flagellin Influenza Vaccine (STF2.4xM2e) in Healthy Adults." Vaccine (18 July 2011): 5145-5152. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

"Universal Influenza Vaccine In Reach Targeting Key Common Proteins." World Health Organization (WHO). Who.com, 31 July 2011. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.

Vergano, Dan and Szabo, Liz. "Long-Term, Universal Flu Shot on Horizon." USA Today, 26 July 2011. Web. 9 Sept. 2011.