The Flu Vaccine Is Being Developed As A Pill

by Julie Scagell
Getty Images

The pill could help get more people vaccinated against the deadly H1 influenza

A new oral flu vaccine is being worked on and studies are showing it may be as effective at preventing certain flu strains as vaccines are today. In a new study published in the journal The Lancet, a pill being manufactured by biotechnology company Vaxart Inc. is being considered as effective as a flu shot at preventing the H1 influenza infection.

“New vaccines that protect by alternative mechanisms are needed to improve efficacy of influenza vaccines,” the study said in part. The pill utilizes a non-spreading adenovirus to carry the flu protein.

The study found that just one dose of the oral tablet vaccine provided significant protection against H1. Scientists said that the research thus far is promising, but also admitted the pill is still at least five years away from being available to the public.

The pill could have widespread implications by getting more people vaccinated from the deadly flu virus. “The availability of an oral flu vaccine would be a major breakthrough, not only because of the obvious comfort of avoiding a needle prick but because an oral tablet vaccine would be easier and faster to distribute and administer than an injectable vaccine, which could have a major impact on improving global vaccination rates,” David R. Mcllwain, a senior research scientist who worked on the study, told Fox News via The Hill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported nearly 40 children have died from the flu nationwide and over 13 million flu cases have been reported this season, with more than 6,000 deaths. Additionally, fewer than half of Americans get a flu vaccine. Reasons cited for this low number include the fear of injections and the myth that flu vaccine can give you the flu or cause autism, the inconvenience of having to go into the doctor, and a sore arm from the shot itself.

A recent study out of the University of Michigan also found half of parents of toddlers and preschool-aged children report that their kids are afraid of visiting the doctor and cited the fear of shots for being a significant deterrent to getting vaccinated. This is a major concern since kids are often the most susceptible to the virus.

Sean Tucker, the chief science officer at Vaxart, also told Fox News that the new oral vaccine may be able to fight influenza locally in the tissues “by an additional mechanism to create antibodies that the flu shot doesn’t provide.”

The study continued: “These results represent a major step forward in developing a safe and effective oral influenza vaccine.”

We’re on board with whatever gets more people vaccinated and if we don’t have to leave the doctor with a sore arm, even better.