A Flu Shot For Life

By Carl Zimmer | May 19, 2012 10:58 am

Why do flu shots only protect us for a single season? Why can’t influenza vaccines be like polio vaccines: get them in childhood and be done with them? Wouldn’t that be the best way to prepare ourselves for the next pandemic?

These are among the questions that will be addressed at next month’s World Science Festival. To lay the groundwork, I’ve written a blog post at the festival web site on where we stand on the road to a universal flu vaccine. At this point, we have good reason to believe that such a vaccine could be invented. Which makes it all the more urgent that we do so. Check it out.


Comments (4)

Links to this Post

  1. Darwiniana » Flu shot for life? | May 20, 2012
  1. Sophia

    A lot of parents are having second thoughts about vaccines these days. From problems with mercury-preservatives to antibiotic traces to formaldehyde, to chicken proteins — not to mention potential viruses hiding inside the chicken host cells. The autism controversy started over issues with vaccines. I recently read a novel “The Element of Terror” that really opened my eyes on how dangerous vaccines could be, and how they might even be subverted if they got into the wrong hands.

    [CZ: Sophia–There’s no evidence that vaccines cause autism, and I don’t think novels are a good source of information on vaccines.]

  2. Monkey

    I second Carl’s comments @2 Sophia. But I understand the torment felt by some and the persuasive impact that claims of children s health can have. But, this is all the more reason to improve the communication, defend reality of vaccination safety, confront news casts that claim otherwise and to basically make the science known to a populous that doesn’t know it. And that is not a pejorative statement – my sister is a very intelligent, caring mother who “trusts” the science, but simply does not “understand” the science. So, when it was time to get he childs vaccines, my science based explanations and debunking of everything that Sophia stated above was interpreted to be equal to the conspiratorial claims of my parents. End result – no vaccinations, because she thought that the science of my parents (and the easier family dinners; this actually causes familial arguments even at the mention of the word ‘vaccine’…or Obama, Gay, GMO, but these are for different posts!) trumped my science. I couldn’t get across that they had no science, just opinions and fears. I couldn’t, despite logic, journals, articles, anything, get the point across.

    Well, im sure he will be fine….

    We have to stop this inane logic, but I know how hard it can be to convince someone who doesnt have the inherent scientific understanding.

  3. Patrick

    It’s exciting to see the advances in the science of vaccinations. The prospect of a lifelong flu vaccine sounds incredible to me (and probably to most anyone who’s ever had the flu before). I agree with Monkey that debunking the ludicrous claims about vaccinations is our first order of business. It amazes me how so many believe that vaccines are inherently dangerous and should be avoided at all cost. If people were to actually read up on scientific studies (not just web pages that claim vaccines are bad) they would find that vaccines are not the causative agents of conditions such as autism. Once that idea gets across, hopefully more people will be less weary about vaccines. Nevertheless, a lifelong flu vaccine sounds exciting to me!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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