Critical Needs in Influenza: Better Options, Improving Hesitancy

An executive with Seqirus discusses the company's work to address age-related flu severity risks.

The burdens of influenza have been as well-defined as any medical risk to emerge in the last century, but there’s still much progress to be made in addressing the key risk factors that drive its impact on the US. Namely, investigators are continually seeking resolutions to age-related severity risks, as well as vaccine hesitancy.

In the second segment of an interview with HCPLive, Roberta Duncan, Vice President of Seqirus and Project Lead of the mRNA Program, discussed these 2 issues and how her team at the major influenza vaccine developing company combats them uniquely. On the clinical end, advances in adjuvant flu vaccine candidates have provided Seqirus is increasingly effective capability in providing better flu immunity in the most at-risk age groups.

“As we get older, we experience immunosenescence, which means our immune system sort of ages and doesn’t quite provide the great protection it had when we were younger,” Duncan explained. “So the greatest at-risk populations are the very young, the very old, and those with risk factors across the age spectrum.”

These are the populations at front of mind in most strategies targeting the advancement of vaccine capability.

“That’s our standard,” Duncan said. “Any other vaccines that come out of our pipeline, we are actively looking at what are those populations that need to be protected, and what that technology brings to better protection.”

Duncan also discussed the need for continued work against vaccine hesitancy—both at the clinician and industry levels—as the pandemic has brought on a greater rate of Americans concerned about the benefit-risk profile of beneficial vaccines including the annual flu shot.

“I think what happened in COVID is it just heightened the sense of ‘What are we doing, and how did we get there?’” Duncan said. “There’s efforts that are really rooted in education…getting into communities and educating them and talking about the value of the vaccines, and also teaching them the language to understand the differences between vaccines and their safety profiles.”