ATHENS - You've heard the warnings how the flu can be deadly. Georgia is leading the country when it comes to flu activity.
Now Channel 2 Action News is getting new insight into groundbreaking research at the University of Georgia on a universal flu vaccine that you'd have to get less often.
Instead of a flu shot once a season, scientists are making progress on one you'd only have to get every five to 10 years. Channel 2's Carol Sbarge learned vaccine options are almost ready for human trials.
"Our goal is to develop a vaccine that will elicit a broad response in an individual to protect them against all different strains of influenza," Dr. Ted Ross said.
It's an ambitious project more than a decade in the making and Sbarge learned Tuesday that Ross, a UGA researcher, and his team are getting closer to creating a universal flu vaccine.
"If we can keep this vaccine for five years, 10 years or more then we won't have to continue to update the vaccine and one shot should last you for many years," Ross said.
Rishia Brown told us she got a flu shot this year. She said she likes the idea of only having to get one every five or 10 years.
"Obviously, the fewer we have to get the most people covered obviously that would be better," Brown said.
Ross and his team are also trying to design a vaccine to protect against flu strains they don't even know exist yet.
"But the way we design them is we use the past to help inform how we're gonna attack the virus in the future," Ross said.
The team has already had successful trials in mice and ferrets, and has award-winning research testing animals that had previously been exposed to the flu.
"Looking at studies like this and investigating different types of flu could really help our knowledge in predicting better vaccine candidates and picking better vaccines that are more protective in people," said James Allen, a UGA doctoral student.
Human trials on two vaccine options are scheduled to begin next summer, during non-flu season.
The testing will take place at various sites in the United States, including in Athens, Georgia.
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