Health

Flu jab 2020: Which strains of flu are protected by this year’s influenza vaccine?

Coronavirus has recently started to spike once more, raising fears the UK is dangling on the precipice of a second wave. The possibility has raised significant alarm given the time of year, as flu season is just around the corner. Incoming cold weather could mean both diseases spread with renewed ease, causing a double assault which could come with devastating consequences.

Which strains of influenza will the jab protect people from this year?

The flu jab is an annual injection which grants people immunity to the dominant circulating influenza strain.

Hundreds of different variations exist of the virus, meaning it is not possible to create just one jab and eradicate it.

As such, scientists can only develop jabs when they know which virus has emerged, and they have identified this year's strains.


While the NHS will administer the vaccine, recommendations come from other organisations such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The EMA released its recommendations in April this year, ready for manufacturers to synthesise two types of jab.

People may receive either the egg-based or live attenuated trivalent or cell-based trivalent vaccines.

Scientists produce the first jab in embryonated eggs, and the second using animal cells.


The egg-based vaccine will include the following virus types this year:

An A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virusAn A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virusA B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus

The cell-based jab will use the following virus types:

An A/Hawaii/70/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virusAn A/Hong Kong/45/2019 (H3N2)-like virusA B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus

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Who should get a flu vaccine this year?

Flu vaccines have taken on renewed significance this year, as the NHS prepares to battle two diseases.

People who take one will help take some pressure off the service by reducing the number of flu cases.

The jab may also prove life-saving, as influenza poses an increased risk to select groups.

The following people should get a flu jab:

All children aged two to ten (but not eleven years or older) on 31 August2020Those aged six months to under 65 years in clinical risk groupsPregnant womenThose aged 65 years and overThose in long-stay residential care homesCarersClose contacts of immunocompromised individualsHealth and social care staff employed by a registered residential care/nursing home registered domiciliary care provider or a voluntary managed hospice provider

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