The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that the flu vaccine for the 2015-2016 flu season is more effective than it has been in the past few years.
During the 2014-2015 flu season, the Inquisitr was one of many media sources to report on the inefficiency of the flu vaccine for that season.
“We know that in seasons when [Influenza A] viruses predominate, we tend to have seasons that are worse flu years, with more hospitalizations from flu and more deaths from influenza,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said, according to U.S. News & World Report near the end of 2014. “The drifted viruses were first detected in March 2014, when it was already too late to include them in this season’s vaccine.”
As a result of how low the effectiveness of the flu vaccine was, a great many people were hospitalized or otherwise affected by what turned out to be a very harsh strain.
This year is vastly different.
The CDC released numbers this past week that showed the current flu vaccine is nearly 60 percent effective, the highest record of effectiveness reported in the past few years.
“This means that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by nearly 60%,” Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief epidemiologist of the CDC’s flu division explained in a CDC news release.
“It’s good news and underscores the importance and the benefit of both annual and ongoing vaccination efforts this season,” he went on to say.
According to the statement released by the CDC, the most common strain of the flu this year is H1N1, more commonly known as “swine flu.” In 2009, the swine flu was responsible for a pandemic that terrified patients around the world. It became included in the flu vaccine the following year.
Despite the very public severity of swine flu, the CDC reported an overall flu vaccine effectiveness of 59 percent, though it was effective against different strains of the flu virus on different levels.
According to the statement, the vaccine effectiveness specifics were: 51 percent effective against the H1N1 flu virus (the most prevalent of this flu season), 76 percent effective against all influenza B viruses, and 79 percent effective against the B/Yamagata lineage. There was not enough data at the time of the press release to estimate the vaccine effectiveness against H3N2 or the B/Victoria lineage.
The flu season has been relatively mild, all things considered, though CDC officials believe it’s on the upswing. Bresee explained the flu season situation as part of the statement.
“Flu activity this season started a bit later and has been lower so far than we’ve seen during the previous three seasons, but activity is still on the upswing and expected to continue for several weeks. Flu causes serious illnesses and deaths every year. This season, CDC has received reports of hospitalizations and deaths in young, otherwise healthy people who were infected with influenza A H1N1, but not vaccinated.”
Although the flu vaccine is highly effective this year, it’s not 100 percent perfect. People who haven’t had their flu shot are just more likely to get ill.
Not all flu cases are extremely dangerous, however. In fact, many people don’t even need antiviral treatment.
CNN laid it out very clearly.
“Antiviral treatment is recommended mostly for people at a higher risk of flu complications. That would include people younger than 2 or older than 64; those with chronic diseases; patients with suppressed immune systems; and people of Native American or Alaskan Native heritage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
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