Tag: flu vaccine myths

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

Getting Advice About Flu Vaccines

As flu season approaches, it seems like everyone wants to give you advice about flu vaccines.

How do you know who to listen to?

Getting Advice About Flu Vaccines

How do you know who’s advice to avoid?

Amanda Bitz wrote a popular post with some good advice.

The best advice about flu vaccines is going to include a recommendation to get vaccinated and protected.
You getting the flu shot, should be a thing.

Another nurse thought she could do a little better…

Exercising and drinking clean water isn't going to help you avoid getting the flu...
A healthy person can’t pass illness to anyone unless they get sick with the flu…

Nurse Sherri wasn’t the only one who felt the need to write a response after reading a post with advice about flu vaccines.

Great advice about flu vaccines!
XOXO – save each other – vaccinate!

Not surprisingly, anti-vax folks have not liked Beth Purkey’s post.

The holistic lioness is probably the worst person to go to for advice about flu vaccines.
XOXO – Save this generation, the next and the ones to follow – DON’T VACCINATE?

What can you see in their responses?

An anti-vaccine toxicologist is not someone you want to go to for advice about flu vaccines.
Herd immunity cannot be achieved by vaccines?

Mostly that they cherry pick a few case reports and studies that they think fit their narrative – that flu vaccines are dangerous, don’t work, and that getting the flu ain’t so bad.

And they top it off with a few conspiracy theories, stuff about shedding, and lots of talk about vaccine inserts.

So who do you want to get advice about flu vaccines from?

Who do you want taking care of you in the hospital if you are sick?

An anti-vaccine nurse is not a good person to go to for advice about flu vaccines.
Lindsey wasn’t trying to scare anyone, she was empowering them with facts so they could make a choice and feel LESS FEARFUL of naturally occurring pathogens that we live amongst all day, every day.

Folks trying to sell you stuff, from essential oils and CBD oil to misinformation about vaccines and the flu, or an “ACTUAL certified medical professional” who knows what they are talking about?

“The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.”

Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu

How serious are you about wanting to avoid getting the flu and keeping your family healthy?

Have you gotten your flu shot yet?

Has your family?

More on Flu Vaccines

Will This Season’s Flu Shot Fail?

Flu season hasn’t even started yet, but we are all seeing anti-vax myths warning that the flu shot will fail in epidemic numbers. Where are they coming from?

Most of these anti-vax folks don't think that any vaccines work...
Most of these anti-vax folks don’t think that any vaccines work…

A lot of it is from the usual suspects…

Will This Season’s Flu Shot Fail?

Anyway, is there anything to this?

Can anyone really predict whether or not this season’s flu vaccine will be effective or if it will fail?

Probably not.

What they can do is scare folks into thinking that the flu vaccine won’t work, so that they don’t get vaccinated and protected, ensuring that we really will have a bad flu season!

Consider last fall. Many were predicting a mild flu season in North America following a mild season in the Southern Hemisphere and yet, 136 children died.

And this year?

Will a moderate to severe flu season in the Southern Hemisphere mean that we will be seeing a severe flu season too?

Maybe, but consider that the issue in the Southern Hemisphere wasn’t a vaccine mismatch.

Last year's flu vaccine in Australia was a good match.

They had a good match with their flu vaccine. The problem was just that they had a lot of flu!

So why do folks think that we will have a mismatch?

The A strains in the southern and northern hemisphere flu vaccines are different.

It’s because the A strains in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere flu vaccines are different, which is a little unusual, but not unheard of.

“Additional data obtained in recent weeks has confirmed the wide regional differences in the relative proportion of A(H3N2) viruses belonging to the phylogenetic subclade 3C.2a1b and clade 3C.3a. The majority of A(H3N2) viruses collected and genetically characterised from September 2018 to February 2019 belonged to the phylogenetic subclade 3C.2a1b; however, the proportion of viruses falling into clade 3C.3a has increased substantially since November 2018 in several countries in western Europe, Israel and especially in the United States of America.”

A lot of work goes into figuring out which strains to include in each year’s flu vaccine and that got us to where we are now.

Unfortunately, a lot of different flu vaccine strains circulate each season, which is why some folks get sick even though they have been vaccinated.
Unfortunately, a lot of different flu vaccine strains circulate each season, which is why some folks get sick even though they have been vaccinated.

Did they make the right decision?

Is our flu vaccine a match?

Some folks are saying that since they changed it again, for next year’s southern hemisphere flu vaccine, then they must have messed up.

So which flu virus strains are circulating so far? Will it be the 3c3.A clade of H3N2 that is in our flu vaccine? Will it be an H1N1 virus?

Of course, it is too early to tell.

“A/H3N2 viruses continue to show substantial diversity in HA sequences with a deep split between 3c3.A and 3c2.A1b viruses. The most notable recent developments are the rapid rise of clade A1b/137F – a subclade of A1b/135K – in China and Bangladesh and clade A1b/197R – a subclade of A1b/131K – which dominates the ongoing season in Australia. Our models predict that A1b/137F and A1b/197R will be the dominant clades next year with A1b/197R accounting for most circulation. There is, however, large uncertainty in the true extent of A1b/137F circulation.”

Bedford et al on Seasonal influenza circulation patterns and projections for September 2019 to September 2020

While we are seeing sporadic cases, flu activity is very low, which makes it a great time to get vaccinated and protected, before flu season really gets started.

And the predictions of a failed flu vaccine?

“Over the last 18 months, 3c3.A viruses have increased markedly in the US and Europe and accounted for 60% of isolates in North America and 10-20% in Europe during the last NH winter.”

Bedford et al on Seasonal influenza circulation patterns and projections for September 2019 to September 2020

I won’t let it get in my way of getting my family vaccinated and protected.

I’ll be getting my flu vaccine, crossing my fingers that they are wrong, and hoping that a universal flu vaccine gets here much sooner than later.

Even if they are right and one strain is mismatched, I understand that being vaccinated is the best protection against the flu and still provides many benefits, including the chance for milder symptoms and less severe disease.

And I know that the only true fail here, in addition to pushing misinformation about flu vaccines, is in skipping a yearly flu vaccine.

More on This Season’s Flu Shot

Has This Really Been the Longest Flu Season in a Decade?

Many folks were probably surprised by reports that this has been the longest flu season in ten years.

After all, just about everything about this year’s flu season has likely seemed mild compared to last year.

“There have been 21 straight weeks of elevated flu season in the U.S., making the current 2018-2019 flu season the longest in ten years.”

CNN

But here we are.

Has This Really Been the Longest Flu Season in a Decade?

What does it really mean to have 21 straight weeks of elevated flu season?

Where is it elevated and by how much?

“Influenza-like-illness levels have been elevated for 21 weeks this season, breaking the previous record of 20 weeks set during the 2014-2015 flu season.”

Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report Week 15

It’s likely that the media reports have been generated by a statement in the latest Weekly FluView Report that influenza-like-illness levels have been elevated for a little longer than usual this season.

What does that mean?

Well, influenza-like-illness levels are the proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI), or basically, how many people are going to the doctor with flu symptoms. Once we get above the national baseline of 2.2%, we know that flu season has started.

“The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) decreased to 2.4%, but remains above the national baseline of 2.2%. Seven of 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.”

Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report Week 15

And it ends when we get back below 2.2%.

Flu season is the time we spend above the national baseline level of influenza-like illness activity.

What’s missing in the talk of the longest flu season, is that it doesn’t tell you much about the severity of the flu season. For example, the peak ILI this year was well below that of last year.

And flu season doesn’t start and end at the same time all over the country.

The bottom line? This has been an average flu season and a lot of people still died, including at least 91 children.

So whether it is a long or short flu season, severe or mild, get a flu vaccine and be protected.

More on the Longest Flu Season