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Why do flu shots work in some but not others? Stanford researchers are trying to find out

flu shot, yellow shirt.jpg

The San Jose Mercury News has a story today on Stanford research that aims to determine why the flu vaccine works for some people but not others. "It is a huge public health problem that is not well understood," immunologist Mark Davis, PhD, who directs the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection, told reporter Lisa Krieger.

Krieger discusses the factors behind variability in vaccine response, and provides details on two vaccine trials here. She also explains how the work could extend beyond the flu:

As research progresses, Davis predicts that a test to measure immune function could be as readily available as today's test for cholesterol levels.

"We all know people who get sick all the time, and people who don't ever get sick. What's the difference?" he asks. "It must be the immune system because that's what protects us."

"Someday, somebody could go into their doctor's office and say they're worried about their immune system," he predicts. "Instead of just rolling his eyes, the doctor could say, 'OK, we've got this nifty test' -- then take a drop of blood to see what's going on."

Photo by cdc e-health

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