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Study: New strain should be added to flu vaccine

Category: Infectious Diseases

Results from a recent St. Louis University study suggest that flu vaccines would be much more effective if they contained both strains of the influenza B virus rather than just one. Currently, vaccines incorporate two types of influenza A, but only one of influenza B, according to St. Louis Public Radio.

"Adding a second influenza B virus strain to the seasonal influenza vaccine would take some of the guesswork out of strain selection and help improve the vaccine's ability to prevent influenza," said lead author Robert Belshe, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the university.

Each year, U.S. researchers predict which subtype of influenza B will be the most active, but when they choose the wrong strain, the vaccine is not nearly as effective.

"Since in five of the last 10 years, the influenza B component in the vaccine has been the incorrect one, this seems like an obvious advance to me," Belshe added.

The research team also found that an inadequate influenza B vaccine is especially ineffective when administered to children - a group that is already at an increased risk of becoming infected with the virus.
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