Amid the most severe influenza season in more than a decade, federal health officials on Wednesday approved a next-generation, insect-based flu vaccine that sidesteps the thorniest parts of production -- and will be used immediately in people willing to test it.
Food and Drug Administration officials gave the nod to Flublok, the first vaccine made by injecting flu genes into an insect virus and growing it in caterpillar cells. That means, unlike current vaccines, it does not require the whole flu virus grown in chicken eggs for production.
About 150,000 doses of the vaccine have been produced and will be distributed by mid-February to people with egg allergies and others who are unable to receive current flu vaccines, said Manon Cox, president and CEO of Protein Sciences Corp., Meriden, Conn., firm that came up with the new process. It's approved for use in adults ages 18 to 49.
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