This year's flu vaccine may only be 10% effective, experts warn

08 December, 2017, 01:39 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Flu season hits Massachusetts early as experts worry vaccine won't match dominant strain

It is one of the best ways to prevent contracting the flu virus.

Experts say that if you do get the flu, it will likely be less severe if you have gotten a flu shot.

Local health officials say that because of the influenza presence in Flathead County it's more important than ever to get a flu shot.

And because most people who show flu symptoms don't go to the doctor and get tested, state epidemiologist Alfred DeMaria cautioned those numbers represent only a small portion of actual cases. This after the vaccine wouldn't work on several strains of flu in South America.

"Reports from Australia have caused mounting concern, with record-high numbers of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications and outbreaks and higher-than-average numbers of hospitalizations and deaths", a team of US researchers wrote in an article published November 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Five people have already died from the flu, so far this flu season in North Carolina.

There are also concerns that this year's flu shot may not be all that effective in preventing the respiratory illness. However, that strain had mutated, making the vaccine less effective.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting that flu activity is increasing, most significantly in the southeastern part of the state. In this regard, the CDC estimates that influenza vaccination averted 40,000 deaths in the United States between the 2005-2006 and 2013-2014 seasons.

While in the past years the flu season started in February, this year the number of people hospitalized due to suffering influenza symptoms has increased.

"Even if the vaccine is only 10 percent effective against H3N2, the vaccine does protect against other strains that are circulating", he said.

The faulty refrigerator stopped functioning properly October 6, its cooling mechanism running continuously instead of cycling on and off, causing temperatures to drop to -3.4 C, effectively destroying the potency of two of three types of flu vaccines it stored, both the conventional one and a high-dose variant used for those ages 65 and older.

Researchers found antibodies elicited by the vaccine in ferrets and humans "did a poor job of neutralizing H3N2 viruses that circulated last year".

Despite those misgivings, she encourages the elderly and those with underlying heart and lung conditions or with suppressed immune systems, who are vulnerable to influenza and its complications, to get their shot to obtain "all the protection you can get".

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