mRNA: New Flu Shot on the Way?


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Scientists who developed the COVID-19 vaccine used a new technology called mRNA, or messenger RNA. Now, researchers at Yale University are building on that discovery by using mRNA technology to improve the flu vaccine.

The COVID pandemic required a rapid response from scientists, bringing vaccine technology that had been studied for years front and center.

Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, Onyema Ogbuagu, MD says “I think that when the world had an urgent need for vaccines, when Sars-CoV-2 virus hit, that causes COVID, then it became an opportunity to test this new approach to vaccine development.”

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Traditional vaccines put a weakened germ into our bodies, but mRNA shots, like the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines teach cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response if someone gets infected.

Researchers take that mRNA template and can encode it for the flu, or other infectious diseases. It would also make it easier to tweak during flu season, if there’s a different dominant strain circulating.

Dr. Ogbuagu mentions, “It’s a technology that can be deployed pretty rapidly.”

Dr. Ogbuagu says the mRNA flu vaccine would not necessarily be better than the traditional shot, but it does mean more people could be protected.

“Remember that some individuals do not tolerate the already approved influenza vaccines, so, this gives them another option,” he adds.

Another option to stop or slow the spread of a serious, potentially deadly infectious disease.

The mRNA vaccine is currently being studied in a clinical trial. Dr. Ogbuagu says he expects some preliminary results by March 2023, the mRNA technology is also being studied for protection against rabies, Lyme disease, Zika, and HIV.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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Yale Medicine




REPORT:       MB #5160

BACKGROUND: Flu shots, or influenza vaccines, fight against the four most common viruses during the flu season. Most flu shots are given traditionally with a needle to the arm. There are many different types of traditional flu vaccines given across the United States. It is recommended that everyone six months and older in the United States get a flu vaccine. The protection from the shots varies from flu seasons and depends on the age and health of the individual receiving it. Vaccines have been reported to reduce the severity of the illness in many that receive it.


DIAGNOSING: There are many tests available to detect an influenza virus. Symptoms of the flu commonly come on suddenly. Symptoms normally consist of things such as fever/chills, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea. Not everyone who encounters the flu will encounter a fever. To diagnose a flu-like virus, healthcare providers will often hold a physical exam. During flu season, healthcare providers will often not test and be able to identify a flu by detecting symptoms. To treat the flu, you will need rest and have a high level of fluid intake. Healthcare providers may prescribe antiviral medications to treat your flu depending on the severity of your illness. To lessen side effects of anti-viral medications, they should be taken with food.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new flu vaccine is using mRNA to target viral proteins changing between strands. A team of researchers from Yale University is putting a weakened germ called mRNA into our bodies. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines contain this protein that wakens immune responses. This mRNA vaccine will also be easier to change during flu season if other infectious diseases become stronger. This vaccine is currently being studied in clinical trials and experts predict preliminary trials by March of 2023. This vaccine is also being tested for protection against rabies, lyme disease, Zika, and HIV.



Colleen Moriarty

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, MD , Infectious Disease Specialist

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