Tag: 2019-20 flu season

Is This Year’s Flu Shot Only 9% Effective?

Why do some people think that this year’s flu shot is only 9% effective?

A statement or tweet from the CDC?

The CDC has not released any information on the effectiveness of this year's flu shot yet.
The CDC has not released any information on the effectiveness of this year’s flu shot yet.

Not exactly…

Is This Year’s Flu Shot Only 9% Effective?

As the 2019-20 flu season is just getting started, we don’t actually know how effective this year’s flu vaccine will be…

She was tweeting an old story about last year's flu vaccine and the 9% number was just about one strain in the vaccine. The adjusted overall vaccine effectiveness for the 2018-19 flu vaccine was actually 47%.
Greta Van Susteren was tweeting an old story about last year’s flu vaccine and the 9% number was just about one strain in the vaccine. The adjusted overall vaccine effectiveness for the 2018-19 flu vaccine was actually 47%.

Early estimates are typically posted in mid-February.

Will we get this year’s flu vaccine effectiveness estimates early because flu season started early?

As some predicted, the circulating H3N2 strains are of a different clade than the ones in the vaccine though…

Will it help that all circulating strains are antigenically similar to the flu virus strains in this year’s flu vaccine?

Or that we are seeing more flu B this year?

During the 2017-18 flu season, the flu vaccine worked much better against flu B strains.

We don’t typically talk about flu vaccine effectiveness against flu B strains because they aren’t a big part of our flu seasons, but in general, flu vaccines work well against flu B.

“In general, current flu vaccines tend to work better against influenza B and influenza A(H1N1) viruses and offer lower protection against influenza A(H3N2) viruses.”

Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work?

In fact, they often work better against flu B than against other strains, so maybe it will turn out to be a good thing if we see more flu B than H3N2 this year…

The flu vaccine has many benefits besides preventing you from getting the flu.
The flu vaccine has many benefits besides preventing you from getting the flu.

But most importantly, we know that the flu vaccine has many benefits and few side effects, so even when it isn’t a perfect match it makes sense to get vaccinated and protected.

And know that until we get a better, universal flu vaccine, folks should know that talk about flu vaccine effectiveness is largely academic, as a yearly flu vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu and developing serious complications from the flu.

More on Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

The 2019-20 Flu Season Update

Breaking News: The 2019-2020 season is well underway, but flu activity has “declined slightly.” (see below)

It is way too early to tell if flu season has peaked...
It is way too early to tell if flu season has peaked…

Flu season started early this year.

The 2019-20 Flu Season Update

That’s not the only surprise though. We are seeing a lot of flu B, which is also unusual for the beginning of flu season.

And we are already seeing quite a few pediatric deaths – 39 so far this season.

The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 19.9 per 100,000 population which is similar to what has been seen during recent previous influenza seasons at this time of year.
The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 19.9 per 100,000 population which is similar to what has been seen during recent previous influenza seasons at this time of year.

But none of this should really be a surprise – it’s flu season, which is always unpredictable.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications.”

Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

Some things to know to about this year’s flu season include that:

  • the most active flu B virus strains belong to a sublade that was not in the flu vaccine, but is similar enough that getting vaccinated should offer protection
  • again, it is never too late to get a flu vaccine. Remember, a yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone without a contraindication who is at least six months old, with younger children getting two doses during their first season.
  • anti-viral flu medications (Tamiflu, Relenza, and Xofluza) are available, but are mainly recommended for those who are at high risk for serious flu complications, including young children (under 2 to 5 years of age), pregnant women, seniors, and those with chronic medical conditions, like asthma and diabetes, etc.
  • most people do not need a flu test, as it is possible to have a negative flu test and still have the flu (false positive test) and most people don’t need to be treated with anti-viral flu medications
  • if you get the flu, avoid others and seek medical attention if you develop any serious, emergency warning signs, like trouble breathing, dehydration, or confusion, etc.
  • people with the flu can generally return to school or work once they are fever free for at least 24 hours

And let’s hope we don’t see any other surprises this year…

More on the The 2019-20 Flu Season Update