A vaccination effectiveness (VE) study published today, 2/15/18, in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that flu vaccines were 36% effective overall against influenza A and B, which means a vaccinated person reduced his or her risk of getting sick with the flu by about one third. However, the data show that VE against the season’s dominant strain, the H3N2 strain, was lower, at 25%, Schuchat said.
One reason this season has been so challenging is that the A(H3N2) viruses have been linked to more severe illnesses. In recent weeks, more B viruses and H1N1 viruses have been circulating, for which the vaccine is somewhat more effective. Specifically, the vaccine is 67% effective against the A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses and 42% effective against influenza B viruses.
Reports show that 63 children have died of flu so far this season, Dr. Schuchat said, adding, “Unfortunately, we’re expecting to report more pediatric deaths in the near future.” She noted that of those children who died, 3 of 4 had not received a flu shot.
While the Flu Shot is not as effective as we all hope it could be, it is better than no vaccine and significantly better at preventing flu deaths. We pediatricians in Baton Rouge at APAM continue to recommend the flu vaccine in addition to basic precautions such as frequent hand washing.