Influenza, better known by its short name flu, is such a common human malady that it would go unnoticed if it were not so deadly, posing a seemingly endless string of challenges for the medical community, among them flu vaccine side effects.
Except perhaps for cancer and immunological deficiencies, virus-caused diseases are among the most, if not the most, intractable concerns in human medical history. To give a simple perspective of the range of viral infections, these creatures– which are neither plants nor animals and infinitely smaller than the tiniest representatives of both kingdoms,– cause the common cold at one end of the spectrum which to many of us is more of a bother than an ailment, as well as the deadly Ebola fever at the far end of the horrifying line, which can kill within 24 hours from the time of initial infection. And the pervading medical nightmare is that because of the largely still unknown nature of viruses, none of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the known virus-caused infections in humans are treatable. None.
It is a tremendous relief to know therefore that the flu virus, for all its mystery and menace, can be held back by a protocol of highly effective vaccines, now readily available universally and administered at little cost. But as in many medical developments, particularly against viruses, certain obstacles pop up which complicate the administration of preventive procedures.
One of the latest concerns are flu vaccine side effects. Strangely, a possible side effect being looked into by researchers is obesity, particularly among young people vaccinated regularly against the flu virus. It is known that the virus has an affinity for the fat cells of the body, and antibodies produced by the system against the flu virus are believed to head straight for the fat cells, sometimes triggering these cells to either divide faster or grow larger .The most common side effects however are milder—runny noses and cough, chills and fever, sore throats for adults and abdominal pain. These normally go away a few days after the vaccine is administered.
These common flu vaccine side effects may either be reduced to a large extent or completely eliminated with a new universal flu shot that is intended to target various flu strains, including H1N1. The new vaccine will target new strains of the influenza virus, discovered after the H1N1 pandemic. New antibodies were identified in the bloodstream of H1N1 pandemic survivors, and scientists say they are using these antibodies to target new flu strains, together with the older, more common ones. The projected new immunological agents will widen the range of effectiveness of the new vaccine. At the same time, a flu vaccine side effect, actually a vaccine fore-effect because this is the first downside – the scary, painful inevitable vaccine needle—may be a thing of the past.
Medical researchers announce that a flu patch is in the works, a tiny patch embedded with 100 dissolving micro-needles that deliver flu vaccine painlessly into the skin. Human testing of the anti-flu patch is expected to start soon, and considering the quality of the battle scientists are waging against the wily, continent-jumping flu virus strains – old and new—any new weapon—with or without its annoying side effects, cannot come too soon.