Predicting the annual strain of influenza virus is difficult. Most times, doctors will take an educated guess based off the strain from the previous year and design the flu shots around that virus. In 2014, the flu shot that was created appears to vaccinate against the wrong virus, leaving everyone susceptible to the flu.
The annual flu shot is designed to combat up to four strains of influenza, but there is always a chance that the virus could mutate and adapt, becoming resistant to the vaccination. According to a report by the CDC, via NBC News, that appears to be what happened this season. This year’s strain is known as H3N2, but the H3N2 strain has already mutated, causing concern for doctors. The viral mutation is called a “drift” and it exposes everyone who has already received a flu shot vaccination to this new, mutated virus. Officials are still warning people — especially the very young and very old — to get a flu shot, even if the cocktail injected won’t be as effective as officials had hoped.
“We are recommending strongly still that people who haven’t been vaccinated get vaccinated. Every year vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the flu.”
“Though reduced, this cross-protection might reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. And the vaccine still protects against half the circulating H3N2,as well as H1N1 flu and the B strains.”
Even more alarming is that the CDC has said it is too late in the flu season to roll out a new flu shot vaccine designed to combat the mutated strain of H3N2. As reported by Reuters, it takes four months to develop a flu shot vaccine, and the flu season — which is typically November through March — would be at the end of the cycle, or even over, before a new vaccine could be distributed.
Flu shots are becoming more and more valuable in the battle against the influenza virus. While not an exact science, and it does involve a lot of guessing on the part of researchers, the flu shot doesn’t always hit its mark. Regardless, certain municipalities like New York City have taken to making flu shots mandatory for school-aged children and public workers, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. But even with the mandatory shots this year, the H3N2 strain has proved to be resistant and the end result is that in this flu season, everyone is at risk.
Have you had a flu shot this year? Did you still get sick? Are you concerned that you will get sick? Sound off in the comments below.
[Images courtesy of spotlight.vitals.com and Meteoweb.UK]