Today’s Headlines: New Flu Vaccine Approved, Mental Health Progress, and Fecal Transplants

FDA Approves Next Generation Flu Vaccine: A new type of flu vaccine, Flublok, was approved by the FDA today, during one of the worst flu seasons of the last 10 years. Most flu vaccines are made by growing the virus in chicken eggs; the virus is then inactivated or “killed,” which is a long process. Unlike other flu vaccines, Flublok is made with a protein from the virus and can be grown in culture. Large quantities of this vaccine can be made much more quickly and can be administered to those with egg allergies and others who are unable to receive current flu vaccines. (New York Times)

Obama’s Gun Control Proposals Push for Better Mental Health Care: In addition to pushing for stricter gun control laws, President Obama’s additional mental health proposals include an additional $150 million “to hire thousands of new mental health professionals and social workers, provide teachers and school officials with training to identify symptoms of mental illness, and shore up services for at-risk youths.” Obama  is also proposing a new program, Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education), which reaches out to “750,000 young people with mental illness and refers them to treatment. The plan notes that 75% of mental illness appears by age 24.” (USA Today)

Fecal Transplants Can Help With Hard-to-Treat Infections: A new study reveals that fecal transplants can help patients who have recurring C. difficile infections, which are difficult to treat with antibiotics alone and kills 14,000 people a year in the United States. The procedure would require transplanting feces from a healthy person into the gut of someone who is sick. Feces can contain bacteria that have the power to heal, though more research needs to be done to identify the specific species that are most beneficial. “The Food and Drug Administration had recently begun to regard stool used for transplant as a drug, and to require doctors administering it to apply for permission.” (New York Times)