Last fall some people in the know about influenza science got picky when it came time to get their flu shots.
They didn’t want to roll up their sleeve for any old vaccine on offer at their doctor’s office or workplace clinic. They sought specific products, the ones licensed for older adults that contain a performance-boosting compound called an adjuvant or more notably one of the two brands of vaccine not made — as most flu vaccines are — in eggs.
“My colleagues who are over age 65, everybody wanted basically the Fluad or the Protein Sciences vaccine, Flublok,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. (Fluad, made by Seqirus, contains an adjuvant; Flublok is produced in insect cells.)
Imagine the reaction of the public — and the media — and STAT (looking at you Ed) — if an arm of the Fed issued guidance that favored one flu vaccine formulation over another. Big government is in cahoots with big pharma!!! OMG!!!
Then the price of the version with only 300K doses produced shoots up. More outrage.
Seriously, this is why FDA for decades has gone out of its way to be very conservative about allowing any competitive study data into a drug’s Prescribing Information. There’s no way CDC or whoever is going on the record saying one brand is better than another without iron clad data.
To know enough to be able to make an informed decision based on nuanced understanding for one kind of flu vaccine over another is an insider thing. Get to know, or be lucky enough to be related, to one of these insiders. Or dive in and immerse yourself in this topic. But the gov’t ain’t coming to save you on this — which is the way we should all want it.
Guidance to the public is scant. Most individuals do not refer to the CDC regularly, if at all. Public health departments must have funding for education so why are they not following that mandate? Perhaps it’s time for CDC, or Health & Human Services to participate in TV “infomercials” to educate the public on out how to avoid becoming ill with the Flu in the first place. Also offered should be advice on what vaccine is best for each age group. Move over Big Pharma!
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