New vaccine strategy affords protection to cancer patients against flu

09 December 2015

Patients with cancers of the immune system, like multiple myeloma, are especially susceptible to common infections, and even a bout of the flu could cause serious illness and even death.

Even though patients with multiple myeloma and other plasma cell disorders received an annual flu vaccine, studies have shown it did not offer adequate immune response.

Under the new strategy, patients are given a high-dose flu vaccine followed by a second high-dose booster shot a month later.

According to the study's first author, Andrew Branagan, postdoctoral associate in medicine in Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, US, the booster strategy lowered the flu infection rate among patients to 6 per cent, and it improved protection against all flu strains covered by the vaccine in 66 per cent of patients.

Using an approved flu vaccine in a novel schedule yielded promising results for a group of patients at high risk for infection, he added.

The findings were presented on 6 December at the American Society of Hematology' annual meeting held in Florida.

Branagan said the new dosing schedule of the flu vaccine resulted in promising effects for a group of high-risk patients.

The team hoped to confirm the findings in a larger ongoing trial at Yale during the 2015 to 2016 flu season. ''We suspect this strategy could benefit other cancer patient populations," he said.
According to the recommendation of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), everyone aged 6 months and above, should get vaccinated against flu, preferably soon after the shots are available or by October. It took around two weeks post-flu shot for antibodies to manifest in the body, producing the desired protection.

The CDC also suggested preventive steps on a daily basis, which included regular handwashing and keeping away from sick, immune-compromised individuals.

 search domain-b