Flu vaccine may only be 10 percent effective, experts warn

Brandon Parsons
December 8, 2017

If you haven't already gotten your flu shot, local health professional believe you should because experts say this flu season will be a bad one.

The flu virus is spread through droplets of saliva and mucus from the nose and mouth of someone who coughs or sneezes.

Fleming said four might not seem like a lot but confirmed cases "are the tip of the iceberg".

"Such as the elderly, pregnant women, children, so it's just so important to get your flu vaccine", said Pam McGowen a nurse practitioner at the Florida Department of Health, Bay County.

A flu vaccine in a typical year has an effectiveness rate of between 40 and 60 percent.

The U.S. sees 140,000 to 710,000 flu-related hospitalization each year and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization.

London and Middlesex County suffered the season's first two flu outbreaks last week, one in a hospital, the other in a long-term care facility. The number of Americans who have contracted the illness is likely even greater, an agency spokeswoman cautioned, since most people don't go to the doctor and get tested.

"It's estimated that between 15,000 and 35,000 deaths are caused each year by the flu and its complications", DeMaria said. However, that strain had mutated, making the vaccine less effective.

Still, McGeer said there's good evidence accumulated over time that getting the flu shot every year "is a safer and healthier thing to do for myself and better for my patients and my family".

According to the study, a strain of the H3N2 virus with a different outer layer protein emerged during the 2014-2015 flu season.

The authors want that however imperfect, though, current influenza vaccines remain a valuable public health tool, and it is always better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated. Each year, 2 or 3 strains of influenza virus circulate throughout the northern and southern hemispheres.

Nearly 860 confirmed cases have been reported this flu season, compared to 242 at the same time previous year.

Though the accuracy and effectiveness of each year's vaccine varies, this year's seems on track to provide good protection against the Influenza A strains now predominating, health officials say. The nasal spray vaccine that has been available in recent years is no longer considered effective and is not available. "Our immune system then gets to see it, to recognize it, and learn it so that if we ever get a natural virus infection, we're ready to respond".

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