Monday, 29 May, 2017

How effective is the flu vaccine as cases continue to rise?

Health department offering free flu shots Health department offering free flu shots
Sammy Stanley | 17 February, 2017, 00:27

The good news is that the flu vaccine is covered under most individual insurance plans, Medicare, Medicaid and plans purchased through your employer when administered at your primary care doctor's office. "The season hasn't peaked yet, and we don't know when the peak is going to happen", she said. "We hopefully are approaching the peak but we may not be there yet". It's also particularly important for babysitters and elderly caretakers. In short, the flu isn't messing around this year and it could have unsafe consequences for kids, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.

Although the current vaccine includes protection against H3N2, the CDC said viruses in that category evolve so quickly and frequently it's hard for vaccine-makers to anticipate the changes.

This year is not an exception.

And so far, the percentage of doctor's visits for the flu has exceeded the national baseline for eight consecutive weeks, the report said.

That's why fresh flu vaccine cocktails are needed each year.

There have been 2,878 reported influenza cases in Allegheny County and 984 in Westmoreland along with 506 in Butler County and 921 in Washington County. The Wichita Falls/Wichita County Health District said cases in Texas are on the rise and are expected to continue for the next few weeks.

"Still, we can do a lot of good with a pretty good vaccine available today". Each February, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts, makes the final decision about which virus strains will go into vaccines, which will be sold beginning in September to protect people during the forthcoming flu season.

In a separate report, Lenee Blanton, MPH, of the CDC, characterized influenza activity as "moderate" so far this year.

"The current flu vaccine is the best preventative measure we now have".

Overall, its effectiveness reached 48 percent.

Last week Canadian researchers reported they are seeing about 42 percent protection from the H3N2 component of the vaccine north of the border.

While 40 percent to 50 percent effectiveness may not sound like much, when spread across an entire population, the effect is significant, he said.

But if you think we're on the tail end of the peak of flu season, think again. That's true of all families of flu but for some reason the H3N2 viruses adapt in ways that introduce important differences.

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