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Egg-Based and Cell-Based Influenza Vaccines

Opinion
Video

An expert explains the differences between egg-based and cell-based influenza vaccines.

This is a video synopsis of a discussion involving Gary Marshall, MD.


There are three main technologies for manufacturing flu vaccines - egg-based, cell-based, and recombinant. Egg-based flu vaccine production has been used for decades and relies on the availability of millions of embryonated hen's eggs. Cell-based production grows the vaccine virus in mammalian cell culture instead. The key difference between egg-based and cell-based flu vaccines is antigenic fidelity - how closely the immune response triggered by the vaccine matches the immune response needed against circulating flu strains. Egg-based vaccines can mutate as the vaccine virus adapts to grow well in eggs, altering the crucial hemagglutinin surface protein. Cell-based vaccines do not mutate from egg-adaptation since they are grown in mammalian cells from start to finish. This gives cell-based vaccines an advantage in potential effectiveness when circulating strains drift over time. The recombinant flu vaccine production method is not used in pediatrics. Reasons cell-based flu vaccine technology has been developed include avoiding egg-adaptation issues, enabling quicker pandemic flu vaccine production without waiting for enough eggs, reducing reliance on the egg supply chain for annual production, and potential advantages in manufacturing capacity and costs. For children, either egg-based or cell-based influenza vaccines may be used, but cell-based offers possible effectiveness advantages related to minimized viral mutations during production.

Video synopsis is AI-generated and reviewed by Contemporary Pediatrics editorial staff.

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