Flu vaccine hasn't been very effective this season, CDC says

This season’s flu shot offered little to no protection against a mild or moderate case of the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and P...


This season’s flu shot offered little to no protection against a mild or moderate case of the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.

In a study of more than 3,600 Americans in seven states, the CDC said in a report that the vaccine was only about 16% effective, a rate he said was “not statistically significant”.

“It’s not ineffective, but its efficacy is clearly suboptimal,” Dr. Jesse L. Goodman, former chief scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, said Thursday. He reviewed the report but was not associated with it.

Yet despite the vaccine’s poor performance this season, which began in October and lasts through May, the CDC has suggested people get vaccinated, saying it could “prevent serious consequences.”

Scientists had warned in 2020 that flu season, if severe, could eventually converge with Covid to create a dreaded “twins.” But coronavirus restrictions – including working from home and the use of masks – as well as a high flu vaccine rate may have helped to reduce the workload in recent seasons, in which the CDC says cases have been at an all-time high.

Yet even a mild flu season can be devastating. The CDC estimated that during the 2019-20 flu seasonaround 22,000 people in the country had died and 400,000 had been hospitalized.

This season, the agency said, “flu activity” declined in December and January, at the peak of Omicron’s outbreak, but increased in early February.

In October and November 2021, the agency investigated a flu outbreak at the University of Michigan, where there have been 745 cases, mostly involving students who had not been vaccinated against the flu. The investigators there also found that the vaccine did not offer much protection.

Dr Goodman said this season’s results showed just how much better flu shots could be.

“The next pandemic could be an influenza pandemic,” said Dr Goodman, “so we need better vaccines.”

Each year, scientists decide whether they need to update the flu vaccine to protect against the strains they believe will dominate the coming season.

The low rate of effectiveness this season, Dr Goodman said, “suggests there was a mismatch between the virus strains in the vaccine and what’s been circulating.”

Scientists update this season’s vaccines to provide protection against four flu viruses, including H3N2, which ended up being this season’s dominant strain, according to the report. H3N2 was also dominant during the 2017-18 flu seasonwhich the experts had described as “moderately serious”.

Since the creation of the agency calculate vaccine effectiveness in 2004, the efficiency rate reached 60% – for the 2010-11 season – and as low as 10%, in the first season, the CDC tracked it. Dr. Goodman said he would consider anything between 50-80% good.

The flu is a life-threatening respiratory disease that can fill hospital beds. He shares symptoms with Covid, including fever, cough, sore throat and fatigue. Adults 65 years and older, pregnant women, immunocompromised people and children under 5 years old are most at risk flu.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Flu vaccine hasn't been very effective this season, CDC says
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