ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – With the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine, there are still questions about other immunizations. Why do you receive the mumps, measles, and rubella vaccination once while you need booster shots for influenza?
“Viruses differ in their properties. Some mutate more than others. HIV is incredibly variable. Flu is pretty variable. Coronaviruses are kind of variable,” Dr. John Moore, professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, said.
Some viruses do not vary at all, like measles, while others are constantly mutating to survive. With the ever adapting viruses, it is important to adjust the components.
“You need to adjust the composition of the vaccine to enable the immune system to catch back up,” Dr. Moore continued.
Immunologists alter vaccines by adjusting sequences in the vaccine’s genome. For the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, this is a fairly easy process because they are made with mRNA; however, it is difficult to mass-produce vaccine boosters in a short period of time. How do immunologists know when a booster shot is needed?
“It is all best estimates on available science that goes into how the vaccine composition is adjusted,” Dr. Moore added.
As COVID-19 vaccines are being manufactured, distributed, and delivered around the world, scientists find the doses are more effective than the flu shot.
“They’re [flu vaccines] not as effective as the Coronavirus vaccines, which surprised a lot of people when we first saw the Coronavirus vaccine results,” Dr. Moore said.
Technology and techniques used to create the COVID-19 vaccines may be used for future influenza vaccinations. A flu pandemic, like the Spanish Flu of 1918, is a worst case scenario for immunologists and is being watched closely.
“There will be more attention to influenza pandemic planning and there will be absolutely more governmental capabilities to deal with future pandemics,” Dr. Moore continued.
Scientists are currently studying how long this vaccine will last and the long term effects. Experts are encouraging everyone to take the vaccine as soon as you can.
“It is the best shot we have at curtailing this pandemic,” Dr. Moore concluded.
To view our exclusive interview with Dr. John Moore, click the video below.