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Cancer Patients Protected From Flu With New Vaccine Strategy

First Posted: Dec 06, 2015 09:32 PM EST
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A new vaccine strategy may help better protect cancer patients against the flu, according to new research.

Researchers at Yale Cancer Center developed a strategy involving a high-dose flu vaccine followed by a second high-dose booster shot one month later.

"Using an approved flu vaccine in a novel dosing schedule yielded promising results for a group patients at high risk for infection," Andrew Branagan, M.D., a postdoctoral associate in medicine, said in a news release. "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."

Certain cancer patients are more susceptible to infection. For instance, patients with cancers of the immune system, including multiple myeloma, are more likely to catch the flu, which may even lead to serious illness or death, and even though patients with multiple myeloma and other plasma cell disorders may receive an annual flu vaccine, previous studies have shown that a one-time flu shot will not offer adequate immune response. 

Study results revealed that the booster strategy helped lower the flu infection rate among patients to 6 percent versus an expected rate of 20 percent. Furthermore, it helped protect against all flu strains covered by the vaccine in 66 percent of patients.

The findings were presented Dec. 6 at the 57th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Orlando, Florida.

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