Monday, January 12, 2015

YOU can contribute to the flu vaccine conversation!

It is no secret that this year's seasonal flu vaccine missed the mark.  Because of the virus's rampant antigenic variation a new and updated vaccine is required each year.  The months of time required for vaccine manufacture and distribution mean that the vaccine must be chosen far in advance of the flu season itself, so the relevant strains must be predicted based on snapshots of new forms flickering onto the scene at the close of the previous flu season.  Unfortunately, this year that data wasn't enough to enable an accurate prediction so this year's vaccine is not well matched to the circulating flu strain.  I had always assumed that such an important and tricky decision was made by an elite team of experts behind closed doors, in some secret corner of of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It turns out that is only part of the story.  Of course there are national experts working through this tough challenge each year, but if you--the general public--have an opinion to voice, this team will consider your input!  If you are ready to add your two cents to the vaccine selection discussion, book a ticket to Maryland and mark March 4th in your calendar.  To take advantage of this opportunity share your perspective, all you need to do is send a presentation proposal to the FDA by February 18th.  And make sure you can speak quickly!  Only the hourlong block of 12:40-1:40pm is available for all presenters.  According to the FDA announcement of the event, "interested persons may present data, information, or views, orally or in writing, on issues pending before the committee."


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