Scientists close to perfecting universal flu vaccine

Posted: Updated:
MELVILLE -

Efforts are underway by the National Institutes of Health to create a universal flu vaccine.

It's a shot that would cover multiple strains of the virus and would last through several seasons. If a successful universal flu vaccine is developed, you'd only get a flu shot every five to 10 years instead of annually.

"The universal flu vaccine would target the constant protein in the middle of the flu virus, which is constant across all strains so that you, theoretically, would never have a mismatch," Dr. John Zaso, a pediatrician, told News 12 by phone. "The other important thing with this vaccine is not only is it there to prevent the flu, they're being developed to actually minimize flu symptoms, so...if you do get sick, you end up with a much, much milder disease than you would with a regular flu."

Vaccine trials are currently being conducted in the U.S. and Europe.

Some Long Islanders, including Lloyd Harbor's Emily May, are skeptical. She says she doesn't think it would help protect against all flu strains over several years. Maureen Henry, of Bethpage, says she'd be willing to try the universal vaccine.

Researchers say they'll probably know by the beginning of 2021 whether they've developed a successful universal flu vaccine. Until then, people will have to continue getting the flu shot every year, if they wish.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.3 million people have come down with the flu this season. Data shows that between 69,000 and 84,000 people have been hospitalized because of it.

Health officials also report that 16 children have died, including three within the last week.

The flu is considered widespread in New York and 30 other states.

  • SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Dog Day Fridays for May 17

    Dog Day Fridays for May 17

    Friday, May 17 2019 11:13 AM EDT2019-05-17 15:13:26 GMT
    Scruff is a cute little girl looking for love! This shaggy dog came from Puerto Rico and is ready for a whole new life. She would do well in a home with other dogs, children of any age, and can even live amongst cats.Scruff is a cute little girl looking for love! This shaggy dog came from Puerto Rico and is ready for a whole new life. She would do well in a home with other dogs, children of any age, and can even live amongst cats.
    Scruff is a cute little girl looking for love! This shaggy dog came from Puerto Rico and is ready for a whole new life. She would do well in a home with other dogs, children of any age, and can even live amongst cats.Scruff is a cute little girl looking for love! This shaggy dog came from Puerto Rico and is ready for a whole new life. She would do well in a home with other dogs, children of any age, and can even live amongst cats.
    This week's pets are up for adoption at Southampton Animal Shelter. The shelter is located at 102 Old Riverhead Road West in Hampton Bays. Their phone number is 631-728-7387.
    This week's pets are up for adoption at Southampton Animal Shelter. The shelter is located at 102 Old Riverhead Road West in Hampton Bays. Their phone number is 631-728-7387.
  • 2019 PGA Championship Photos

    2019 PGA Championship Photos

    Are you attending the PGA Championship?  News 12 wants to see your photos!
    Are you attending the PGA Championship?  News 12 wants to see your photos!
sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."