Priming jab 'speeds up bird flu protection'

Protection against bird flu could be provided within a week if an immunisation strategy using a priming jab were introduced, a study suggests.

Current approaches require a wait of around six weeks between two doses of vaccine to provide protection. Researchers from University Hospitals Leicester showed that protection could be provided within a week of an H5N1 vaccine if a priming vaccine had been given up to six years previously.

The researchers vaccinated 54 people with H5N1 vaccine. After one week, those who had received a priming dose had generated levels of antibodies which would protect them from infection with the H5N1 virus.

The researchers suggest that use of a priming vaccine strategy would improve use of healthcare resources and improve protection against a flu pandemic.

NEJM 2008;359:1631

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