Currently there is one approved vaccine for H5N1 virus, otherwise known as bird flu. This vaccine is not available to the general public; it is being stockpiled by the government in the event of a pandemic. It is not perfect but it is hoped that it will be of some value while the researchers continue their hunt and develop and produce a meaningful product.
In the meantime you can buy influenza vaccine for subtypes A&B; the vaccines are uniquely produced for different age ranges from infants to the elderly.
Vaccines are made from the actual virus that they protect you against, they are specific and they are of no value to vaccines is pretty hit and miss, samples are gathered from people protect you from anything other than what they have been designed for. A polio vaccination will be useless in combating a cold, if there are no sick people, it is impossible to harvest a sample and provide a vaccine to combat it. The methodology used to create vaccines is to harvest the virus, mix it with the strain from the previous year, make a vaccine out of it and hope it works. When a new virus, such as H5N1 shows up, the rules are reset to zero, everything must start from scratch.
You can currently buy influenza vaccine that have the potential of reducing the severity and the length of time the flu stays with the patient. One product is called Tamiflu and the other is known as Relenza. Tamiflu has been shown to be effective if treatment is started early, within 48 hours of the first symptoms. Although it is not known yet if Tamiflu is effective against bird flu, it may increase the chances of survival if taken very early. To date, many cases of bird flu in humans has proved fatal, the disease cannot yet be treated with antibiotics but as flu can bring on other secondary problems such as lung infection, antibiotics could prove to be life saving.
The biggest problem right now is limited production and high prices. Although the production of Tamiflu has been increased by a factor of five it is estimated that it will take a decade to produce enough of it to treat just 20% of the world’s population, whether everyone on the planet will ever be vaccinated is doubtful. For more information, visit the website.
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