Yale scientists seek to protect cancer patients from flu

Yale Cancer Center scientists have created a vaccine strategy to protect cancer patients -- considered to be at the highest risk for developing influenza infections -- against the flu.

People who have cancer that affects their immune system include patients with myeloma, and their weakened immune systems make them more susceptible to common infections such as influenza. Contracting the flu can potentially kill these patients.

Many of these patients receive the yearly vaccine for seasonal influenza. Unfortunately, statistics demonstrate that this single, one-time vaccine does not give the patients the needed immunity against the influenza.

To address this problem, Yale researchers created a plan that will better protect cancer patients. This requires the patients to accept a high-dose influenza vaccine and a second booster vaccine that is also high-dose. The booster short must be received one month after the first.

"Using an approved flu vaccine in a novel dosing schedule yielded promising results for a group patients at high risk for infection," Andrew Branagan, a postdoctoral associate in hematology, said. "We hope to confirm these results in a larger prospective randomized trial that is underway now at Yale during the 2015-2016 flu season. We suspect this strategy could benefit other cancer patient populations."

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Yale University

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