University of Nebraska Medical Center

Is There a Vaccine for H5N1 Influenza?


On the heels of a multi-state outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) in dairy cows, experts told MedPage Today that a trio of H5N1 vaccines for humans has already been developed and approved in the U.S.

While there hasn’t been an outbreak among people to put them to the test, human-to-human transmission would “drive the need” for H5N1 vaccines, Aaron Glatt, MD, of Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, New York and a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told MedPage Today.

If infections among humans who work with animals become more common, this could be a subgroup of people to vaccinate, he added. So far, only one human case in the U.S.  has been reported this year.

Nahid Bhadelia, MD, of the Boston University Center on Emerging Infectious Diseases, noted that it is “important to be talking about vaccines,” including the current stockpile the capacity to manufacture new doses if need be, and the designs of the current vaccines.

A spokesperson for the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) told MedPage Today in an emailed statement that it is monitoring the situation closely along with partners from the CDC, FDA, Department of Agriculture, and White House.

ASPR’s National Pre-Pandemic Influenza Vaccine Stockpile (NPIVS) program “enables rapid response to influenza strains as they evolve,” the spokesperson said, adding that the program “works closely with industry partners to make and test updated vaccines that match new strains of influenza viruses with pandemic potential as they emerge, while at the same time, supporting manufacturing capacity to allow for large-scale vaccine production if needed.”

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