CDC on Universal Flu Shot


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September 23, 2013:
Current flu season is so severe that new interest is being taken in alternatives like universal vaccines, and hopefully will spur renewed interest in development.


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While the centers for disease control and prevention in Atlanta have been mapping outbreaks for years, search engines like Google have become very good at mapping inquiries related to symptoms, creating real-time maps used by medical experts to deploy supplies and track outbreaks in real time.

What is the CDC's timeline for universal flu shots?

Potential to drastically reduce illness in country

A universal flu shot program may be available within the next few years thanks to studies by the CDC and vaccine manufacturers. Therefore, instead of getting annual flu shots, children and the elderly as well as other high risk groups could get a single flu shot that lasts for years. The benefits to humankind are also very high, since fewer people would be sick with influenza, which can even take 4 to 7 days out of a healthy person's year and put a damper on home life and vacations while a person is suffering from the flu. In fact, many employers give free annual flu shots to their workers becasue of the negative impact that absenteeism has on the efficiency of the whole organization, so a universal flu shot would mean that people could spend their PTO time on fun instead of illness or taking care of loved ones who are sick. The Centers for Disease Control are also hoping that a univeral flu shot would reduce the annual spread of the virus, which necessitates tracking and alerting health authorities about the need to have additional medicines and hospital beds available. Finally, a universal flu vaccine that worked, and was taken by a majority of the population, would significantly reduce health care costs in that it would alleviate the strain on emergency rooms and doctor's offices, so no matter who is paying for your health care, whether it is an insurance company or public service, less flu means more savings.

Notes and Special Information

Special note: The CDC and FDA will have many considerations for the deployment of a universal flu vaccine, and the public is urged to be patient and get annual flu shots until such time as a universal one becomes available. Even after a universal vaccine gets off the ground, you should keep getting boosters and upgrades if you find out that a new variety of virus is out there and killing people. Like any series of viruses, influenza manages to cause pandemics when new strains come into the human population, and a vaccine that kills all of one flu type may be completely defenseless against strains from bats, birds, or pigs if it has somehow managed to spread among people. Instead of grousing about getting a new shot, just consider that getting jabbed in the arm is more fun than being dead.