We are in the middle of the 2014-2015 influenza season and while the 2014-2015 flu vaccine effectiveness is turning out to be quite a bust, the CDC is still recommending you have your flu shot. Here’s why the current flu shot just isn’t working and some things you can do to keep from getting the flu.
2014-2015 Flu Vaccine Effectiveness
Towards the tail end of 2014 we discussed the what the World Health Organization had recommended would be the dominant flu strains for the 2014-2015 flu season. Their prediction? The same thing as the previous year:
1. An Influenza A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) like virus
2. An Influenza A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2) like virus
3. An Inluenza B/Massachusetts/2/2012 like virus
Most flu vaccines guard against three strains of influenza, however, some contain four strains. For the 2014-2015 flu season the vaccine contained:
An Influenza B/Brisbane/60/2008 like virus
There’s just one problem – the educated guesses of what would be the dominant flu strain was off – and so far the 2014-2015 flu vaccine effectiveness has been way off. According to the CDC, the 2014-2015 flu vaccine effectiveness has only been twenty-three percent effective at reducing a person’s risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu related complications – for ALL age groups (3).
On a side note: since 2004 when the CDC began keeping track of vaccine effectiveness, the flu shot has varied between 10% effectiveness and 60% effectiveness on any given year.
So what’s the deal for the horrible 2014-2015 flu shot effectiveness?
Well, what people are actually catching is not what’s included in this year’s flu shot. So far this year approximately seventy percent of the flu cases have been an Influenza A H3N2 virus – just not the type of strain contained in this year’s flu vaccine (there are hundreds of strains of flu viruses).
Meanwhile, the CDC is still urging citizens get this year’s flu shot ($$$$$).
For some tips on keeping flu free:
1. Frequently wash your hands with hot soap and water for at least twenty seconds
2. Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, nose, face, or any open wound
3. Eat Garlic
4. Get fifteen minutes of sunlight each day
5. Don’t eat a lot of sugar
Have you had your flu shot this year? Is the flu shot you regularly get each year?
1. N.a. “Protection from Flu Vaccine Reduced This Season.” Centers For Disease Control. 15 January 2015. Web. 15 January 2015.
2. 2014-2015 Flu Vaccine Information
3. N.a. “Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness, 2015-2016.” Centers For Disease Control. 11 April 2016. Web. 12 May 2016