Yes, we’ve all read the headlines saying that this year’s flu vaccine is only 10% effective in preventing influenza, but I challenge you to look closer at the research.
According to infectious disease experts from the US National Institutes of Health and the WHO “seasonal flu vaccine development has left the United States relatively defenseless against the influenza A H3N2 strain now making its way over from the Southern Hemisphere.” They go on to say that preliminary data from the Australia outbreak put the influenza A H3N2 vaccine efficacy at 10%.
What they don’t mention is that according to the CDC, Center for Disease Control, FluView research for the week of October 1 through November 25, 2017 the “majority of influenza viruses collected in the United States were characterized antigenically and genetically as being similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2017-2018 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine.” Basically, so far the United States influenza vaccine matches the virus we are seeing. In past years when the vaccine matched the circulating influenza virus, protection was between 40-60%.
Let’s break it down:
The flu vaccine was only 10% effective in preventing influenza in Australia
So far in the US the vaccine matches the strain we are seeing (although we haven’t had much influenza yet)
In years past when the vaccine matched the strain, influenza and it’s complications were prevented 40-60% of the time
Here are some things to know before you say “No” to the flu shot:
Each year between 12,000 and 52,000 Americas die of influenza or its complications.
In 2017, a study in Pediatrics journal looked at four influenza seasons between 2010 and 2014 and found that the influenza vaccine reduced influenza associated deaths by 51% in children with high risk medical conditions and by 65% in healthy children.
Getting the flu vaccine reduces death, intensive care hospital admissions, and overall hospitalizations.
The influenza vaccine can prevent severe life-threatening illnesses in children.
One study showed that for every 4000 people that got the flu vaccine, one death was prevented. Doesn’t sound like a lot but if it’s your family member that’s a big deal.
The flu vaccine lowers rates of cardiac events in those with heart disease.
Getting the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalization in people with diabetes and lung disease.
Pregnant ladies who get the flu shot had reduced incidence of flu and its complications and decreased the risk to her baby by 50%.
Being vaccinated protects those around you that are more vulnerable to serious flu-like illness such as babies, young children, and the elderly. (Aren’t you glad your doctors and staff at Great Destinations get the flu shot?)
So this morning as I read the headlines and then did my own research, I came up with the facts you just read. This is the best of our knowledge for right now. When making a decision about medication or vaccines, one must always weigh the benefits and the risks. The risks of getting the flu shot are pretty minimal and include soreness at the site of the shot, redness and swelling at the site, fever for a day or two, and body aches. That’s not bad when you compare the serious illness influenza can cause not to mention the fatalities. In my mind, it’s way too soon to know how effective the flu shot will be in the United States. However, even if it is only 10% effective, that’s better than nothing.
If you have questions or want to discuss whether or not to get the flu shot, please don’t hesitate to call us.