Good news for those suffering from egg allergies. The FDA has now approved two egg-free flu vaccines. The most recent is called Flublok. Even though the FDA approved it last month, the final release testing, which is the last step before it is available to the public, should be finished by Monday. As our Katie Gibas tells us, the benefits go much further than just an option for those with egg allergies.
UNITED STATES -- The flu is more than just something that will knock you down for a few days.
"They can get very, very sick and sometimes they die. We want people to get vaccinated. The more people who get vaccinated in a community, the better the whole community's immunity is," said David Martin RN, a Crouse Hospital Infection specialist.
But since the flu vaccine is made from egg proteins, there hasn't been an option for those suffering from egg allergies...until now. This season, two egg-free vaccines have been approved by the FDA. The latest is Flublok made by the Protein Sciences Corporation.
"Two to three percent of our employees have egg allergies or some other type of allergies, so that provides them for some opportunity to be vaccinated against the flu," said Martin.
Rather than make the whole flu virus like current vaccines, Flublok takes just the small piece of the virus needed for immunity and grows it in insect cells. It's the first flu vaccine to use this recombinant DNA technology.
"This product does not use a live influenza virus in the production process. There are no additives in the vaccine, no Thimerosal (Mercury), no preservatives, no antibiotics. So it's really a pure protein," said Manon Cox, the Protein Sciences CEO.
The benefit of this method is it takes about half the time to produce the vaccine as the traditional method.
"So if we had a pandemic flu, like we did with the swine flu, a few years ago, they would be able to make large batches of vaccine much quicker than we are currently able to," said Martin.
This technology is also believed to be even more effective than traditional vaccines.
"It protects against the specific flus that we look for each season, but it also has some protection against all flu," said Martin.
Since both of the egg free vaccines really just came out for public use within the last couple of months, availability has been very limited, but health experts anticipate it will be more widely available next season.
"In the uncertainty of knowing whether we were or were not going to get approved by the FDA because our application had been under review for the past five years, we decided to make a limited amount of doses. We made around 150,000 doses," said Cox.
The FDA will likely release those doses to the public next week. And Protein Sciences hopes to be able to produce between two and three million doses next season.
The vaccine is approved for people 18-49 years old. Approval for everyone 18 and up is expected sometime this year.
As for price, it is expected to cost more than the traditional shot, but less than the Flumist nasal spray.
To find the vaccine or learn more about it, check out the link below.