The 1918 influenza pandemic has been aptly described as the mother of all pandemics. It led to the death of approximately 50 million people worldwide. A lot of questions about the pandemic still remain unanswered. Its unusual epidemiological features, the factors contributing to its high pathogenecity among other things are not known. It is estimated that about one third of the world population was infected by the virus and case fatality rate was >2.5% when compared to <0.1% in other influenza pandemics.
I believe that it is imperative for all these unanswered questions to be unanswered as it will provide more clue as to how to deal with future pandemics. I believe that the advancement in technology that has brought about the possibility of sequencing the genome is an advantage. The possibility of more research into the virus for the sake of preparing for future outbreaks is a good thing. I strongly believe, and I support that that more research should be done to better understand the virus. The critics that are raising eyebrows at the project to continue research on the virus are right in raising those concerns. I also believe that those concerns are genuine. However, a way out if to prevent the virus from escaping these containment facilities so that they do not get into wrong hands.
I have not had a flu shot in a while but I am willing to take one when it is made available. The use of flu shots protect against the virus when given. However, because of continued mutation of the virus, one needs to get vaccination against a new strain when they are discovered - there is no single flu vaccine that gives protection against all flu viruses.
There are two types of flu vaccines which include the live attenuated virus and the inactivated virus. The use of the live attenuated vaccine could be hazardous in individuals that are already immunocompromised as they could have come down with the flu infection after being given the vaccine.
J Taubenberger & D Morens (2006). 1918 influenza: the mother of all pandemics. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2006 Jan [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1209.050979
M Billings (1997). The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Stanford Edu. Retrieved on 2nd of June, 2013 from http://www.stanford.edu/group/virus/uda/
CDC (2013). Seasonal Influenza vaccine safety: A Summary for Clinicians. CDC. retrieved on 2nd June, 2013 from <http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/vaccine_safety.htm>