On Jan. 16, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first influenza vaccine to be produced without the use of eggs or the influenza virus. Flublok is a product of Protein Sciences Corporation in Meridian, CT., and was developed using grants from the National Institutes of Health. The company is opening a manufacturing facility in Pearl River, NY, to manufacture the new vaccine. The vaccine is approved for people ages 18 to 49.
Influenza vaccines are created by growing the viruses in fertilized eggs before they are processed into vaccine. Patients with an egg allergy are warned not to be vaccinated as a result. The process for making Flublok does not use eggs and is significantly faster than the egg growth method.
The manufacturer describes Flublok as:
a trivalent composition of recombinant influenza hemagglutinin (rHA) proteins
Only the proteins which are the active ingredients in any influenza vaccine are produced for Flublok. The process does not use any flu viruses and the vaccine contains three times the usual amount of active ingredient when compared to other flu vaccines on the market. The vaccine is also produced without using preservatives (thimerosal), antibiotics or adjuvants (vaccine extenders).
This technology is new for the production of influenza vaccines. The FDA states the technology is used to produce vaccines for other illnesses which have received FDA approval. Limited amounts of Flublok will be available for the 2012-2013 influenza season, according to Protein Sciences Corp., and will be widely available for the 2013-2014 season.