Verify: If The Flu Shot Is 10% Effective, Should You Get It?

NYS DOH flu seasons 2017
The number of confirmed flu cases in New York State by week for the last four flu seasons. chart NYS DOH

14 December, 2017

When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu virus spreads through the community. The number of confirmed cases is four more than a year ago during the same span of time.

Federal flu forecaster Dave Osthus at the Los Alamos National Laboratory told Business Insider that flu levels are looking a little higher than average for this time of year, but they're still within a normal range.

News reports that the flu vaccine is only 10 percent effective, may have you thinking why even bother getting the shot. "We often think of the very young and seniors when we think of the vulnerable, but people at any age with underlying health conditions are also at a greater risk of the flu and serious complications stemming from it". As many as 646,000 people are dying globally from seasonal influenza each year, U.S. health officials said yesterday, a rise from earlier assessments of the disease's death toll.

In the United States last season, overall vaccine effectiveness against all circulating flu viruses was 39 percent and the effectiveness was only a bit lower, 32 percent, against H3N2 viruses.

Flu season is upon us.

People aged 75 years and older and people living in sub-Saharan African countries experienced the highest rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths.

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Dr Peter Salama, executive director of the World Health Organisation's Health Emergencies Programme, said the findings "highlight the importance of influenza prevention for seasonal epidemics, as well as preparedness for pandemics".

Saul said he's seen only a few flu cases at Bridgeport Hospital so far this season, but expects it to pick up soon.

But the reason the 2017 shot isn't preventing as many cases of the H3N2 strain is that while scientists were growing the virus in chicken eggs, that strain mutated.

Rodriquez said that even if you get vaccinated in January, February or March, it's much better than not being vaccinated at all.

The CDC notes that the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women as well as breastfeeding mothers, who can reduce their risk of catching the flu and passing it on to their infants by receiving a flu shot.

"Getting your annual flu vaccine is still your first and best line of defense against the influenza virus", said Dr. Rattay. "You can stay away from people that are sick and then help protect others if you are sick by staying away from them".

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