We may soon be looking at strep, flu, and even Ebola much differently.
Know any parents who would love it if they never had to worry about their kids getting strep throat?
I do. And if science has anything to do with it, that day is coming.
There are so many amazing things happening with vaccine research right now that will save many lives, a bunch of money, and make us all happier and healthier. Here are five of them:
1. We may soon be able to say goodbye to that yearly flu shot.
When the weather turns cooler and the leaves begin to fall, there are three things to expect: football games, pumpkin spice overload, and the constant reminder to get a flu shot.
And considering flu kills an estimated 36,000 people and hospitalizes 200,000 more in the U.S. each year, all the flu talk makes sense. But it just might get easier on us.
Scientists are developing a "universal" flu vaccine that would consist of one shot to (hopefully) prevent flu for the rest of your life. ONE SHOT AND DONE. What!
As it currently goes, we're encouraged to get a new flu shot every year because there are so many strands of flu virus, and they are constantly mutating. It's hard to keep up.
But two independent teams have reported studies in Science and Nature Medicine the ways they've been fighting whole groups of viruses rather than just a single strain. They are making big strides toward a flu vaccine with much broader protection. Win!
2. We're on the verge of having an Ebola vaccine. Seriously!
Ebola: It was the terrifying "E" word of 2014. But a new vaccine trial is a positive sign we'll be able to contain and stop it in the future. The World Health Organization reports that the results from an Ebola vaccine trial in Guinea have shown to be highly effective.
"This is an extremely promising development," said Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO. "The credit goes to the Guinean government, the people living in the communities and our partners in this project. An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks."
Think of how many lives could be saved!
3. A new vaccine is able to protect girls and boys against HPV better than ever before.
HPV (human papillomavirus, if you're fancy) is bad — and common. It's so common, actually, that nearly all sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives. The virus can cause genital warts and a variety of cancers, most commonly cervical cancer in women.
We have two main vaccines that are effective against it, but now there's a vaccine that's even better than before. Instead of only being able to protect against two or four strains of HPV, new research from the New England Journal of Medicine shows a new vaccine, Gardasil-9, can protect against nine strains.
Take that, cervical cancer. BAM, POW!
4. HIV treatment and prevention is becoming even more effective.
"What's really exciting about HIV prevention in 2015 is that we have options; we have several tools that we can use," Jonathan Volk, a San Francisco-based infectious disease doctor, told ABC7news.
Volk just got done leading a study on the drug Truvada where it proved to be 100% effective on more than 600 patients. None of them tested positive for HIV after almost three years of being on it.
That type of news mixed with other studies showing hope for an actual HIV vaccine paint a very different picture from what we would have seen 30, 20, even five years ago. Progress.
5. Peace out, strep throat. A vaccine might be able to prevent it altogether.
As reported in a Upworthy article, a new vaccine called StreptAnova is being tested to prevent group A streptococcal (GAS) infections, which is the category strep falls into. The vaccine would be particularly beneficial to children and teens, who are most susceptible to the illnesses.
I know more than a few moms who would be quite happy for their kids never to have a 104-degree fever and the extreme sudden sickness that lands them in the ER at 2 a.m. with strep throat.
How cool that there is a strep vaccine on the horizon?
So much progress is unfolding right before our eyes. And if we keep trusting science and putting kids first, we're going to be in great shape.
Here's to thinking forward and setting ourselves up for the best future possible! Huzzah!