Since there are conflicting opinions on getting the flu vaccine, should a mesothelioma patient receive the flu vaccine? These patients in particular, along with the elderly, young children, and people living with some chronic health issues, should assess the pros and cons of receiving the vaccine.
What do the experts say?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccines given with a needle cannot cause the flu. Even the vaccine given through a nasal spray, though it has a live virus, has been weakened and cold-adapted so it cannot infect a person as it would not survive the body’s warmth. Because there are a number of vaccines available, anyone with health problems should confer with their doctor to receive the correct one.
The CDC strongly encourages everyone to get the vaccine since flu is a serious, and sometimes deadly, disease. The risk of not getting the vaccine is greater than receiving it.
Currently, that means a shot or nasal spray every year as the virus is seasonal. Fortunately, there is a new type of vaccine on the horizon that may mean a vaccine only every few years.
The Universal Flu Vaccine
For decades, scientists searched for a universal vaccine that could eliminate the yearly shot and cover a variety of flu viruses. This is important, not only for patient convenience, but seasonal vaccine development means scientists have to guess what virus may be prevalent in any one year. A universal vaccine could eliminate that problem.
Currently, there are numerous vaccines in various stages of development. The one currently closest to release is the M-001 by BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The company has recently enrolled its final participant so it can begin a Phase 3 trial.
Tamar Ben-Yedidia, the chief scientific officer at BiondVax, stated, “A universal flu vaccine is often referred to as “’The Holy Grail’ of influenza research, and like the Holy Grail, it is challenging to achieve.” He also said in a press release, “This challenging trial aims to show the extent to which M-001 protects people against influenza illness, regardless of the flu strain.” The M-001 vaccine is free of all viruses, but instead contains nine viral epitopes – the antibody binding sites on an antigen – which are recognized by the immune system.
Though the M-001 is currently furthest along in trials, all the flu vaccines use similar strategies. They target the least variable parts of the flu virus to produce immunity.
Why Should a Mesothelioma Patient Receive the Flu Vaccine?
As expressed by the CDC, a person with already weakened systems, such as the lungs, is more at risk of harm by getting the flu rather than getting a vaccine. Not only should the mesothelioma victim be vaccinated, but all those people normally around them.
Since a universal vaccine will mean a more successful and targeted answer to various flu viruses, chances of actually contracting the flu will be less. Those with mesothelioma already fight a serious disease and anything they can do to stay healthy will assist in that fight. This universal flu vaccine is one more tool to prolong life and ease the pain and discomfort of this detestable disease.