Flu vaccines have been relatively ineffective this year. Many people who dutifully received their annual flu shot have caught the flu. In fact, this year’s vaccine is performing even worse than predicted.
Flu Vaccines success (or lack thereof) against the H3N2 Flu strain
Experts had hoped in January that 23 percent of the people who were inoculated would not catch the dreaded H3N2 flu. Actually, the vaccine is only 18 percent effective says HealthDay, the online news publication of the National Institutes of Health. That’s very disappointing.
Children are faring even worse than adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the vaccine is effective in only 15 percent of kids aged 2 through 8 who received shots. Children suffer far worse symptoms than adults who have fully developed immune systems.
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Nasal spray results even worse
The CDC’s report also says that young children received practically no protection whatsoever from the nasal spray vaccine. That fact persuaded the CDC to withdraw its approval of the nasal version of the vaccine for young children. The study says that earlier studies had shown the nasal spray to be more effective than injections. Recent results have not confirmed that. Their advisory panel, however, does support some type of vaccines for children older than 6 months who are in good health.
Older folks did not fare much better. In the 18 to 49 group, the vaccine was only effective 18 percent of the time. It was only 14 percent effective for those aged 50 or older. These figures are merely estimates because the CDC doesn’t have statistically relevant data on either of those groups.
In the past, flu vaccine effectiveness has been as low as 10 percent and as high as 60 percent. The success rate has only been charted since the 2004 to 2005 flu season. This year’s lax performance is caused by a poor match with the majority of the H3N2 strains currently circulating. There is no way to know with certainty which strains will be prevalent because the vaccines are produced half a year before flu season.
Rutgers School of Public Health Professor George DiFerdinando said that the expectations for the vaccine weren’t very high, and recent data backs up their belief that the vaccine would not perform well. He also said that these results could shake the population’s belief in vaccinations. Despite its relative ineffectiveness, the vaccine has saved lives but not as many as would be hoped.
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