Flu Vaccine and It's Effectiveness


Flu activity is widespread in our state currently.  If you have not had your flu vaccine yet please call the office to arrange an appointment to receive it.  Many years the flu season extends well into mid-Spring.  


There has been a lot of media attention on the flu vaccine's effectiveness.  The number of "10%" effectiveness has been reported over and over again.  This is misleading information as this number was reported out of Australia during its most recent flu season and is only against one of the four strains in the current vaccine.  There is no hard data that is available in the US in regards to effectiveness.  Also, laboratory studies doen through the CDC appears to show that the current vaccine still remains a good 'match'.  In years when the vaccine effectiveness is not as high as the CDC expected there is still substanstial benefits in 'partial' effectiveness.  Also, there are usually multiple strains that can circulate in any one season.


Below is an excerpt from the CDC website in regards to vaccine effectiveness.  For more information please visit their website at:  www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm#effectiveness


Some news reports have claimed the flu vaccine is expected to be only 10% effective this year, is this true?

The 10% vaccine effectiveness (VE) figure reported in the news is an Australian interim estimate of the vaccine’s benefit against one flu virus (the H3N2 virus) that circulated in Australia during its most recent flu season. In the United States last season, overall vaccine effectiveness against all circulating flu viruses was 39%, and VE was only a bit lower (32%) against H3N2 viruses. Vaccine effectiveness against other flu viruses (i.e., H1N1 or B viruses) was‎ higher. The United States has a very robust network that estimates vaccine effectiveness each season. This season’s flu vaccine includes the same H3N2 vaccine component as last season, and most circulating H3N2 viruses that have been tested in the United States this season are still similar to the H3N2 vaccine virus. Based on this data, CDC believes U.S. VE estimates from last season are likely to be a better predictor of the flu vaccine benefits to expect this season against circulating H3N2 viruses in the United States. This is assuming minimal change to circulating H3N2 viruses. However, because it is early in the season, CDC flu experts cannot predict which flu viruses will predominate. Estimates of the flu vaccine’s effectiveness against circulating flu viruses in the United States will be available later in the season.

Will this season’s flu vaccine be a good match for circulating viruses?

It’s not possible to predict with certainty if the flu vaccine will be a good match for circulating flu viruses. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the flu viruses that research and surveillance indicate will likely be most common during the season. However, experts must pick which flu viruses to include in the flu vaccine many months in advance in order for flu vaccines to be produced and delivered on time. Also flu viruses change constantly (called drift) – they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. Another factor that can impact vaccine effectiveness, especially against influenza A(H3N2) viruses, are changes that can occur in vaccine viruses as they are grown in eggs, which is the production method for most current flu vaccines. Because of these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between circulating flu viruses and the viruses in the flu vaccine.

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