The FDA is adding a new vaccine to its “worst case scenario” pandemic stockpile. The vaccine is meant for the H5N1 avian influenza but will not be released to the general public. The vaccine would only be used in case an avian flu type virus develops the ability to spread quickly from human to human.
What’s interesting is this is the first time the FDA has approved an “adjuvanted” flu vaccine in the United States, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy website. The CDC defines a vaccine adjuvant as “a substance that is added to the vaccine to increase the body’s immune response to the vaccine.” One of the most common adjuvant materials is aluminum. By adding adjuvant substances, the CDC says vaccine manufacturers can use less viral material in the vaccination and still get a strong immune response from the body’s defenses. That means more vaccines can be made and distributed quickly if needed.
Aluminum adjuvants are the only type used in the United States right now, but none of the common flu vaccines currently uses aluminum. Adjuvanted vaccines made from different substances than aluminum are more common in Europe and Canada but have shown to trigger some adverse reactions.