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'Weak Link' Discovered in Flu Vaccine

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Wednesday, 07 Oct 2015 10:29 AM

Medical researchers have discovered what they are describing as a “weak link” in the flu vaccine that may explain why the shots have not been more effective in combating influenza in recent years.

In research presented at an infectious diseases conference in San Diego this week, influenza epidemiologists from the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin have determined that the part of the vaccine that targets a strain known as influenza A H3N2 has cut the risk of infection by an average of only 38 percent in recent years, the Boston Globe reports.
Last year, when the vaccine was a mismatch for the viral strain, protection was even lower — offering only about 13 percent protection, by some estimates. The new research suggests the vaccine offers substantially stronger protection against other flu strains — including the H1N1 subtype and influenza B — cutting the risk of infection by 60 percent to 75 percent.

Until about a decade ago, the flu vaccine cut the risk of catching influenza by up to 90 percent.
“H3N2 is clearly where we have the biggest problem and that’s also of greatest concern because H3N2 is the virus that accounts for most of the hospitalization and mortality in seniors,” said lead researcher Edward Belongia, M.D., with the Marshfield Clinic.

Dr. Belongia’s findings are based on an analysis of 60 studies conducted over the past eight years. His research is being presented at IDWeek, the annual scientific meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the HIV Medicine Association, and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.

Dr. Belongia’s analysis suggests children have received better protection against the H3N2 strain than seniors.

“Nobody responds all that well to H3N2 vaccine. The vaccine has some effectiveness and 30 to 40 percent effective is better than nothing, but it’s certainly not as good as we would like to see,” Dr. Belongia said.

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Scientists have discovered a 'weak link' in the flu vaccine that may explain why the shots have not been more effective in combating influenza in recent years.
flu, shot, weak, link, vaccine, influenza
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2015-29-07
Wednesday, 07 Oct 2015 10:29 AM
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