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Flu Vaccines a Bust? CDC Says This Year's Shots Half Effective

Image: Flu Vaccines a Bust? CDC Says This Year's Shots Half Effective
A nurse prepares a vaccine against H1N1 virus (Xinhua/Alejandro Ayala/Landov)  

By    |   Friday, 05 Dec 2014 07:02 AM

Flu vaccines are likely to be less effective this season, only partially protecting against the predominant flu virus – which has mutated since the current flu shots were made.

Reuters reported that despite the recent finding by the CDC, announced Thursday, the government agency is still encouraging people to get vaccinated. CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said that recent testing showed that the vaccine protects against roughly half of influenza A (H3N2) strains — this year's dominant flu virus.

"Though reduced, this cross-protection might reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. And the vaccine still protects against half the circulating H3N2, as well as H1N1 flu and the B strains," the CDC said in its health advisory.

"As of November 22, influenza activity has increased slightly in most parts of the United States. Surveillance data indicate that influenza A (H3N2) viruses have predominated so far [82% of samples], with lower levels of detection of influenza B viruses and even less detection of H1N1 viruses."

Past seasons where H3N2 made up the majority of flu cases have been severe, and that has many worried that there may be an uptick in deaths among vulnerable populations like the elderly. Last year, H1N1 was the dominant flu virus.

Flu vaccines are concocted and prepared at least 4 months ahead of flu season, and this year nearly 160 million vaccines will be available to consumers. Predicting how the virus strains will mutate in that length of time can be tricky from, and this year the mutations did not match the vaccine as much as many hoped for.

For those that do come down with a severe flu this season, anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu and Relenza can shorten the length of the sickness.

"We strongly recommend that if doctors suspect the flu in someone who may be severely ill from the flu, they don't wait for the results of a flu test before starting antivirals," said Frieden.



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Flu vaccines are likely to be less effective this season, only partially protecting against the predominant flu virus — which has mutated since the current flu shots were made.
flu, vaccines, half, effective, cdc
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2014-02-05
Friday, 05 Dec 2014 07:02 AM
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