Dr. Kadish: Every year there’s a lot of press about the development of the annual influenza vaccine. In fact, some of our scientists at New York Medical College participate in that effort. Do you see any changes or advances in influenza vaccines that will make them more effective? Are there any new term advances that are happening now?
Dr. Cohn: There are new vaccine technologies that hopefully will increase their effectiveness. As you know, flu vaccines are still not as effective as we would like for them to be, even though given the huge burden of influenza every year, they prevent a significant amount of disease each year, and they help prevent some of the more serious complications associated with influenza. There is a lot of work going on trying to produce a universal vaccine, but we are still several years away from that.
Dr. Kadish: If you had to bet on one significant vaccine advance that’s going to happen in the next five years, can you share what that might be?
Dr. Cohn: The one vaccine I feel like we may have in the next five years, which would prevent a substantial amount of disease potentially in infants, is the RSV vaccine (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). There is a burden of disease in older adults, but young infants are the most hospitalized and kids who are born prematurely have a substantial burden of RSV disease. A potential new vaccine for RSV, I think would be incredibly helpful in the United States. There’s also a space of emerging high-consequence pathogens, vaccines for emerging infections, which is really important. Zika vaccine, Ebola vaccine, and I think those vaccines are certainly on the horizon.
I would love to have clarification about titer testing, as there is so much misinformation out there. All of my children born between 1980-1988 were vaccinated as babies, and received a second vaccination as teenagers. When they checked their titers recently due to the outbreak, NONE were immune. So is she saying that if you had 2 shots you’re immune and the titer results are wrong? That you’re immune despite very low titers? Or that you need another shot? Thank you.
The data show that the administration of two vaccines is more than 95% effective. However, that does mean that there are a few people who do not have immunity despite having gotten two vaccines. It does seem unusual that this would happen in two siblings. This could be a statistical anomaly or perhaps there are some genetic factors at play.