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Pandemic Flu

Flu Shots

02/12/2008

Question:

I am one of those people that are in the high risk of getting problems from the flu. I get a flu shot every year. Would the flu shot protect me from the pandemic or would they create a new one just for the type of flu during the pandemic?

Answer:

It is unlikely that an annual flu shot would protect you from pandemic flu. Researchers are working on creating a flu shot specifically for the pandemic flu. One of the problems with creating a pandemic flu shot is that the pandemic flu virus may have to mutate (change) in order to be able to infect a lot of people and cause a pandemic. Researchers are not sure exactly what the surface antigens of a flu virus that can cause a pandemic will look like. They hope that the flu shot they create will at least make the pandemic flu illness less severe.

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Response by:

John  Andrews, MD, MPH John Andrews, MD, MPH
Assistant Senior Vice President Medical Center
Director University Health Services
University of Cincinnati