Flu Shot Largely Ineffective For Seniors This Season

The flu shot is doing a poor job helping seniors this season, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that the flu vaccine was almost completely ineffective for citizens age 65 and older. The rates of hospitalization and death have been some of the highest ever recorded for that age group.

The news came in early estimates released by the CDC on Thursday, reports USA Today. Researchers are not yet sure why the flu shot was so ineffective for the elderly.

Joe Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in the CDC’s influenza division, stated:

“We know that the vaccine, including flu vaccines, is less effective as you get older. We often see lower effectiveness in people over 65, though not always.”

While seniors did not see a huge benefit to getting the flu vaccine, the overall effectiveness for people older than six months was 56 percent. While the results were lower than the estimated 62 percent earlier in the season, they are still higher then for seniors.

The estimates showed the vaccine was effective 67 percent of the time for influenza B. For the season’s most prevalent strain, H3N2, the vaccine was only nine percent effective.

The flu shot has been roughly 60 to 70 percent effective in recent years, according to CBS News. Initially doctors were thrilled about this year’s vaccine, because it contains the H3N2 strain, which is the most prevalent strain of the season. But Thursday’s findings in seniors were puzzling, because of the vaccine’s lack of effectiveness.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease researcher at Vanderbilt University, stated that there should be some perspective when looking at the results. Schaffner stated that there aren’t any other preventative disease-fighting approaches that are as effective for seniors as the flu shot. The vaccine saw an overall 27 percent effectiveness in the group.

Does the flu shot’s lack of effectiveness for seniors this season make you want to keep getting it? Or will you choose not to next year, given the results from this season’s shot?

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