Monday 20 August 2018

Patients will be given 'better' flu jab next winter

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A new flu vaccine will be made available to people next winter, which it is hoped will give patients better protection.

The new jab will swap this season's A (H3N2) component - known as Aussie flu - for one that performed better in recent years.

The influenza A (H3N2) virus causes relatively severe illness and is prone to mutation, making it difficult to protect against.

A study of nine countries, including Ireland, showed this winter's jab provided poor protection from A (H3N2). The inoculation was given to thousands of people in Ireland.

It was just 8pc effective against this strain, which caused around four in 10 flu-related deaths here.

The vaccine provided "moderate" protection against the other major strain circulating, influenza B.

The interim findings showed the response rate from patients to the jab varied between 39pc to 52pc against the B strain. The study concluded the conventional vaccine is least effective among the over-65s, who are hardest hit by the virus.

And it points to the recommendation in the UK to give older age groups a different winter jab known as adjuvanted trivalent inactivated vaccines.

Adjuvants boost our immune response to a vaccine and make it more effective and long-lasting.

This kind of flu vaccine has been available in Europe since about 1997.

The HSE said yesterday it is a matter for the national immunisation advisory committee to recommend the kind of vaccines which should be provided here next winter.

All eyes will be on how the new flu vaccine will perform in the Australian winter, which coincides with our summer.

The flu season in Ireland this year has been particularly long.

Irish Independent

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