After a doozy of a flu season last year, experts are (thankfully) forecasting that this year’s vaccine will do a better job of fending off the virus.
According to a CDC weekly report, all cases of influenza recorded from May 24-September 5 “from U.S. states and other countries during that time were antigenically and/or genetically characterized as being similar to the influenza vaccine viruses recommended for inclusion in the 2015–16 Northern Hemisphere vaccine.” While it’s not possible to predict which strain of the flu will dominate or how severe it will be, so far flu cases have gone exactly as predicted—meaning the vaccine should offer quality protection.
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In a related press briefing this week, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) medical director William Schaffner, M.D., said: “At the moment, we have reasonable confidence that we are going to have a good match between the circulating virus of what’s out there and what’s in the vaccine,” MedPage Today reports.
Last year’s vaccine was only 13 percent effective, when usually the rate is around 50 to 60 percent. That’s because the predominant virus “drifted,” or mutated, later in the season, causing the virus to be different than what was prepped for in the vaccines. This year’s vaccine targets that mutated version, H3N2.
The CDC continues to explain that getting vaccinated is still the best method for avoiding the flu, even when effectiveness varies. So, time to make a doctor’s appointment to prep for a (fingers crossed!) flu-free winter.
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