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When Was The First Flu Vaccine

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The History Of The Flu Virus

This is the history of vaccines

The flu is a fascinating subject. Most Australians are exposed in one way or another. Whether you yourself have had the flu or youve seen a family member go through it, you are likely aware of its effects and the illness it can cause the vulnerable, such as children and the elderly. With the 2020 flu season almost upon us, weve pulled together some interesting facts about the flu vaccine and the history of the flu in Australia.

The influenza virus was first isolated in 1933, giving rise to a new era in which all of humanity could be protected from one of the worlds most prolific killers. This breakthrough changed thinking about influenza, as previously the consensus was that the flu was caused by a bacterium known as Haemophilus Influenzae.

How Long Did It Take To Develop The Flu Vaccine

  • The first flu vaccine was licensed for civilian use in the U.S. in 1945.
  • Dr. Jonas Salk was one of the lead researchers.
  • Nearly 200 million doses of vaccine were expected to be manufactured this flu season.

The 1918 influenza pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide and left 675,000 people dead in the United States, according to the CDC.

But it wasn’t until 1945 – nearly three decades later – that the first flu vaccine was licensed for civilian use in the U.S.

In contrast, an effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine was developed in less than a year. Historically, vaccines have taken years to make it to distribution.

The first-ever vaccine to be developed was for smallpox in 1796, according to the World Health Organization.

Today, vaccines are available for more than two dozen diseases. Many of the shots, like those for measles and chickenpox, are considered routine.

Scientists dedicate their entire careers to researching vaccines. Dr. Jonas Salk, famous for creating the polio vaccine in the 1950s, was one of the lead researchers on the flu vaccine a decade earlier. Before Salk died at age 80 in 1995, he worked on a vaccine for HIV, which still hasn’t come to fruition.

Since Salk’s early work on the flu vaccine, it’s become one of the most common shots given.

Here’s a look back at some of the key moments in the history of influenza and the flu vaccine, based on a timeline from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Work Begins On A Universal Flu Vaccine

Johnson & Johnson announced that it will begin work on the development of a new universal flu vaccine designed to fight all types of the virus, using molecules called mini-HA antigens that contain parts of the flu virus that appear within a wide variety of viruses. The goal: provide longer-lasting protection than the regular seasonal flu shot.

The catalyst for this was a 2008 discovery by Crucell that human antibody CR6261 could protect against a broad spectrum of influenza viruses. It was then that researchers realized humans are capable of producing antibodies against the part of the influenza virus that doesn’t changean idea that was not accepted before this time.

Current flu vaccines have to be changed year to year, and even then, they only reduce the risk of developing the flu by 40 to 60%, explains Ted KwaksTed Kwaks, Ph.D.,Director for Project Management and External Innovation, Viral Vaccines Discovery, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Ph.D., Director for Project Management and External Innovation, Viral Vaccines Discovery, , part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. The theory is that, ultimately, well put these antigens into a vaccine that will provide protection against virtually all flu strains.

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The Vaccine You’ve Never Heard Of: Spanish Flu

We think about the 1918 flu pandemic as being a pandemic without a vaccine. But, at the time, multiple groups around the world tried to make a vaccine, including some in Australia.

“These vaccines were basically made by collecting gunk out of the lungs of people who had confirmed cases of pneumonic influenza and making what we’d now call a broad-spectrum vaccine,” says medical historian Peter Hobbins.

“Basically they were killing multiple germs and then injecting that material from those germs to people in the hope that it would stimulate the immune system to respond broadly to all of those potential pathogens and therefore lessen the impact of the virus.”

The 1970s Vaccine Success

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During the 1970s, one vaccine was eliminated. Because of successful eradication efforts, the smallpox vaccine was no longer recommended for use after 1972. While vaccine research continued, new vaccines were not introduced during the 1970s.

Late 1970s | Recommended Vaccines

* Given in combination as DTP** Given in combination as MMR

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The Flu Virus Is Constantly Evolving Thats Why Annual Flu Shots Are Recommended

There are several influenza viruses out there. And like all viruses, flu viruses are complex and constantly changing. This is why an annual vaccine is developed based on the strains and types that are expected to be the most common that year.

Unfortunately, this means that last years flu shot wont protect you this year. This also means that this years vaccine wont protect you from every strain and type of flu out there. All 2021-2022 flu vaccines will be quadrivalent, meaning that theyll protect against four different strains of the flu.

The Science Of The Flu Shot

Arriving with the autumnal chill in the air, flu shots are being dispensed in clinics and pharmacies across the country. While imperfect, the vaccination is the most reliable way to avoid a potentially deadly infection. While many accept it as a seasonal inconvenience, influenza kills about 19,000 Americans in an average year.

Following the pioneering work of Hilary Koprowski, who developed a vaccination protocol using live-attenuated virus, Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis created the worlds first modern flu vaccine in 1938 using fertilized chicken eggs. Their vaccine was first used to protect American troops during World War II. In the years since, the method to produce the vaccine has largely remained the same, but the quality of information that goes into its development has changed dramatically, says Stephen S. Morse, an infectious disease expert and professor of Epidemiology.

Influenza is now known to be in a constant state of flux, mutating as it passes from one disease reservoir to anotherfrom migratory birds to chickens to humans and back. It also comes in different variations: influenza A, B, C, and D. The first two are the most common and are the ones used in the vaccine.

Flu shots today contain three or four strains of influenza A and B that scientists think are most likely to spread in the month ahead. Even if the stain isnt an exact match, it can convey partial protection. For all the advances, however, influenza strain selection is still an inexact science.

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The First Flu Vaccine Is Introduced

Soviet scientist A.A. Smorodintseff made the first attempt to vaccinate people with a live influenza vaccine. Following in the footsteps of Louis Pasteurwho had made the first known attempt to vaccinate humans with a live, attenuated viral strain of rabies in 1885Smorodintseff passed the live flu virus about 30 times in eggs, so it lost its virulence. He reported that those injected with the modified virus developed a slight fever but were protected against reinfection.

The attenuated virus was then used for mass production of a vaccine that was largely administered to factory workers, who were susceptible to outbreaks due to close working conditions.

The Schedule From 2011 To Present

First Covid Vaccine Given In U.S. As Distribution Begins | NBC Nightly News

Annual updates to both the childhood and adult immunization schedules offer guidance to healthcare providers in the form of new recommendations, changes to existing recommendations, or clarifications to assist with interpretation of the schedule in certain circumstances. The schedules are reviewed by committees of experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Important changes to the schedule:

  • New vaccines: meningococcal serogroup B vaccine
  • Additional recommendations for existing vaccines: HPV , intranasal influenza vaccine
  • Discontinuation of vaccine: intranasal influenza vaccine

2020 | Recommended Vaccines

* Given in combination as DTaP** Given in combination as MMR

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Why Do I Need A Flu Vaccine Every Year

  • A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, a persons immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next to protect against the viruses that research suggests may be most common during the upcoming flu season. For the best protection, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated annually.

When Should I Get Vaccinated

  • You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begin spreading in your community since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu. Make plans to get vaccinated early in the fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. However, getting vaccinated early is likely to be associated with reduced protection against flu infection later in the flu season, particularly among older adults. Vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

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What Are Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, headache, runny nose, body aches and fatigue. Symptoms arrive suddenly and may last for up to a week or more. The disease affects people of all ages but the most vulnerable are the very young, the very old and those with pre-existing illnesses. In climates such as Canadas, the viruses that circulate each winter are known as the seasonal flu. Seasonal flu viruses are primarily caused by influenza A and B .

Should I Get The Flu Vaccine If I’m Pregnant Or Breastfeeding

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  • Years of studies and observation show that you can safely get a flu shot at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Babies cannot get the vaccine until six months old. Because antibodies from the vaccine pass onto a fetus in the womb and through breast milk, you protect your baby even more by getting vaccinated.

  • Pregnant people should not get the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine. Those with a life-threatening egg allergy should not get the flu vaccine, whether pregnant or not.

SourcesFlu & Pregnancy- CDC

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Antigenic Drift And Shift

Two key processes that influenza viruses evolve through are and . Antigenic drift is when an influenza virus’s antigens change due to the gradual accumulation of mutations in the antigen’s gene. This can occur in response to exerted by the host immune response. Antigenic drift is especially common for the HA protein, in which just a few amino acid changes in the head region can constitute antigenic drift. The result is the production of novel strains that can evade pre-existing antibody-mediated immunity. Antigenic drift occurs in all influenza species but is slower in B than A and slowest in C and D. Antigenic drift is a major cause of seasonal influenza, and requires that flu vaccines be updated annually. HA is the main component of inactivated vaccines, so surveillance monitors antigenic drift of this antigen among circulating strains. Antigenic evolution of influenza viruses of humans appears to be faster than influenza viruses in swine and equines. In wild birds, within-subtype antigenic variation appears to be limited but has been observed in poultry.

The Russian Flu Pandemic Spreads

Technically considered the fourth pandemic of the 20th century , this outbreakwhich started in China and Russia but eventually spread worldwidemainly affected people under the age of 25.

Researchers would later theorize that an older H1N1 virus had mysteriously resurfaced, only impacting younger people who had never been exposed to it.

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How Effective Are Flu Shots

Today, flu shots contain three strains of the virus. The WHO determines which strains to include based on how the virus has mutated over the past year and where it is spreading. The trivalent vaccine combines two strains of the influenza A virus and one strain of influenza B in order to prompt your immune system to develop antibodies for all three versions of the flu.

It takes about two weeks after you get a flu shot for your body to build immunity.

But its still a guessing game. There are four species of the flu virus A, B, C, and D with the most common being strains of A or B viruses. Most years the flu shots produced are between 40% and 60% effective.

The holy grail is to target a piece of the virus by antibody or t cell, Tom Evans, the CEO of a company called Vaccitech that is working on a universal vaccine they hope can be used to treat all strains of influenza A, told National Geographic.

Typically two A strains are the most common during peak flu season: H1N1 and H3N2. This year, the H3N2 strain is particularly nasty and prevalent more than 80% of all cases this season involve this type of flu virus, according to CDC data.

Can I Get Seasonal Flu Even Though I Got A Flu Vaccine This Year

One year since the first Covid vaccination, what have vaccines achieved?

Yes. Its possible to get sick with flu even if you have been vaccinated . This is possible for the following reasons:

  • You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you.

  • You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. A flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.

  • Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus a flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. The protection provided by the flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on the health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, a flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.

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Drugs For Nasal Administration

The sold under the brand names FluMist or Fluenz is delivered intranasally. Flumist is a Quadrivalent Vaccine which contains four vaccine virus strains: an A/H1N1 strain, an A/H3N2 strain and two B strains. FluMist Quadrivalent contains B strains from both the B/Yamagata/14/88 and the B/Victoria/2/87 lineages. It has been approved by the CDC for vaccinating all eligible people between 2 and 49 years of age.

A Short History Of Vaccination Campaigns In Australia And What We Might Expect With Covid

Of the many things we take for granted about our modern lives hot showers, supermarkets, video streaming services perhaps none has had as much impact on our longevity as vaccines.

Back at the turn of the 20th century, the average life expectancy of an Australian baby boy was about 55. About one in 10 children died before their first birthday, many from diseases that are now controlled with vaccination.

Now, as a virus spreads around the globe that we have no existing immunity to, we’ve been forced to return to the same methods of reducing disease transmission social distancing and masks used more than 100 years ago.

And, just like in generations gone by, now we’re hoping for a vaccine to help will bring us out of the pandemic we’re living through.

So what did some of the previous vaccination campaigns look like in Australia? And what can we learn from them for how a COVID-19 vaccine might be rolled out here, if or when one proves safe and effective?

Read our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

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It can also occur if an intermediate host such as a pigwhich is susceptible to avian, human, and swine influenzabecomes simultaneously infected by influenza viruses from two different species and the viruses exchange genetic information to acquire completely new antigens, a process called genetic reassortment.

The Asian Flu Pandemic Hits


This was the second major influenza pandemic of the 20th century, killing about 2 million worldwide, including almost 70,000 in the United States. It was caused by a virus known as influenza A subtype H2N2 , a mixed strain many scientists believe originated from a combination of bird and human flu viruses.

Influenza strains are characterized by two proteins on the outer surface of the virus: hemagglutinin and neuraminidase . There are 14 versions of the H protein and nine versions of the N protein, according to the American Council on Science and Health.

The virus was first identified in Guizhou, China, in 1956. It spread to Singapore by February 1957, Hong Kong by that April and the U.S. by June. A vaccine was developed to contain the outbreak in 1957, but the strain would later evolve via antigenic shift into H3N2, causing a milder pandemic between 1968 and 1969.

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