Dear Dr.: I heard there might be a new flu vaccine that is egg-free.
You’re right. In fact you’re double right as there are two egg-free flu vaccines soon to be available.
The first one is called Flucelvax, produced by Novartis. Canine kidney cells culture is used to grow the virus instead of chicken eggs. Tested in 11,000 patients, this new vaccine was 84 percent effective in preventing influenza.
The second is Flublok, offered by Protein Sciences. This one is produced by taking the gene that encodes for hemagluttinin antigen and injecting it into baculovirus – a virus found in insects – which then produces large amounts of hemagluttinin antigen. (Remember, flu virus has two main targets for vaccination: hemagluttinin and neuraminidase.)
Tested in 4,600 patients, this vaccine was 75 percent effective. Both vaccines are currently recommended only for persons 18 years old or older.