MINNEAPOLIS — The U of M is leading the charge when it comes to preventing the flu.

The university announced it has received a grant to develop a first of its kind - influenza vaccines road map. The grant is for $1.1 million and two years. 

The road map will tell us the status of the current vaccine and where the research needs to go from there. 

The goal is to develop new and more comprehensive vaccines that work for more people. 

Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., MPH, is a University of Minnesota Regents professor, the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). He was recently selected by the U.S. Department of State as one of five 2018 U.S. Science Envoys.  

Osterholm is heading up the CIDRAP team that will be creating the road map.

RELATED: Minnesota flu report shows more outbreaks in schools

Osterholm said that the university researchers recognized five to seven years ago that the current influenza vaccines are inadequate. The vaccines we have now don't protect for seasonal flu the way we need them to, he said. 

"What our work will be doing is bringing together the entire world’s expertise, whether they’re at the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the NIH," Osterholm said. "And we will really serve as you might say 'air traffic control' on a global level for trying to develop new and better flu vaccinations."

He says creating that type of vaccine will cost billions of dollars and require cutting-edge research that doesn't exist yet today.

"No one should assume this will be a new universal flu vaccine in several years," Osterholm said. "But we're optimistic we have a flu vaccine."

U of M researchers still say you should get your flu shot - because even if it doesn't prevent it entirely for you - it could at least make your symptoms less severe. 

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