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Vaccine Adjuvants: Is a Little Pain Worth the Gain?

Vaccine Adjuvants: Is a Little Pain Worth the Gain?

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Many old-school athletic coaches preach the mantra, “no pain, no gain” as they encourage individuals to push themselves in training. Do you think this applies to the antibody response to vaccines?  We will see below.

A new flu vaccine, Fluad® (Novartis), was approved by the FDA in November, adding to the crowded field of available vaccine choices:  live versus inactive forms, quadravalent or trivalent, preservative-free or not, given IM or intradermal, high dose or regular dose, made with eggs or totally egg-free. What makes Fluad different is that it is the first “adjuvanted” flu vaccine available in the United States and uses a different adjuvant than has previously been approved for use in the US. Adjuvants are compounds added to vaccines to boost the immune response and have been used for decades. Fluad is specifically indicated, and was "designed" for adults older than age 65. Researchers continue to look for ways to better protect this population against influenza since this group has the highest death rate from the flu and in general these adults have the lowest antibody response to a standard flu vaccine—the result of a less robust immune system.

Now, let's see what you know about adjuvants.

Which of the following statements is NOT true?

A. No live vaccines contain adjuvants. 

B.  All the DTaP and Tdap vaccines contain adjuvants. 

C. Some HIB vaccines contain adjuvants and some don't.

D. Anti-vaxxers aren't worried about adjuvants, at least not yet.

For answer and discussion, please click here.

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