Scientists move closer to a universal flu vaccine

Influenza experts are looking forward to the development a long-lasting flu vaccine to replace the current seasonal one.

While most vaccines typically work for years or even decades, the flu vaccine has remained an annual tradition since it was introduced in the 1950s. Recent studies, however, suggest that a major change is near, according to the New York Times.

"In the history of vaccinology, it's the only one we update year to year." Dr. Gary J. Nabel, the director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, the New York Times reports. "That's the goal: two shots when you're young, and then boosters later in life. That's where we'd like to go."

Nabel predicted that, within a generation, scientists will successfully develop a long-lasting flu vaccine that could potentially provide great benefits to public health.

With current flu technology, scientists cannot create a vaccine to fight a newly evolved pandemic flu strain until the outbreak is well underway. A universal flu vaccine is more likely to protect against new strains immediately.

"Universal vaccination with universal vaccines would put an end to the threat of global disaster that pandemic influenza can cause," Dr. Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University said, the New York Times reports.