Flu Vaccine May Only Be 10 Percent Effective This Year

Credit Getty Images
Credit Getty Images

08 December, 2017

Brace yourselves: a key flu strain may be more aggressive this year, and experts say the vaccine could be dramatically less effective than in the past.

At the core of vaccine creation lies hemagglutinin, a protein on influenza viruses that allows flu to penetrate cells.

After people receive their flu shot, it is important to take preventative measures to continue staying healthy, health officials said. "We generally start seeing an increase about now, and we'll gradually see more as time goes on".

Makers of the vaccine, though, say the strain of the flu that hit Australia may not be the same one that affects the US this year. Strain-specific vaccination can be hit-or-miss even though the WHO's Global Influenza Surveillance Network attempts to forecast which strains look to cause the most misery. From Oct. 1 to December 2, a total of 254 confirmed flu cases have been reported in Philadelphia and its four suburban counties, with 80 of those cases in Delaware County. And in Australia, which used the identical vaccine as Canada's this past season, its effectiveness against H3N2 infection was far less - only about 10 per cent.

This year's flu vaccine may not be as helpful as in years past.

This possibility underscores the need to strive toward a "universal" influenza vaccine that will protect against seasonal influenza drift variants as well as potential pandemic strains, with better durability than current annual vaccines.

The state Department of Public Health has issued an advisory saying the flu is stronger and earlier than in most years.

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"We're seeing earlier cases, and the predominant strain is H3N2, which is different from prior seasons", he adds.

"It doesn't necessarily mean flu shots won't work here, or suggest how intense our flu season will be, but it's a good predictor", Crain stated.

Also, if you are going to go get your flu shot now, the CDC says it really ought to be a proper shot with a needle and everything; they do not recommend using the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine this year.

"A vaccine that might not prevent you from getting the flu might prevent you from getting a serious complication".

Two people in Flathead County have died due to circumstances related to influenza, according to the Flathead City-County Health Department.

Those individuals may have a weakened immune system, therefore making it more hard for them to fight off the flu.

In B.C., for instance, low levels of H3N2 infection have been confirmed since the beginning of the season in late August, but a strain known as B/Yamagata has also been found circulating within the population.

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