You may have been hearing about a rise in the flu in the United States this season. What is going on? Let’s start at the beginning……
How is the flu shot made?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts and suggests the influenza viruses that should be included in the seasonal vaccine each year. They choose the viruses based on what strains are circulating, how they are spreading and how well the current vaccine strains protect against newly identified strains.
- In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines which vaccine viruses will be used in U.S. licensed vaccines.
- All of the 2014-2015 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:
- an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
- an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus
- a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
What is happening? Why are people getting sick? Is the shot working?
- As the flu season is underway, the CDC is already warning hospitals and health care providers that this could be a rough flu season. Usually the most affected are our most vulnerable population: the very young, immuno-compromised, and elderly.
- The CDC states that most frequently reported strains in almost ALL states thus far is the influenza a (H3N2) virus.
- While this year’s vaccine did include influenza A (H3N2), the CDC says about half of the strains seen so far have been a different variety than the one in the vaccine. The vaccine will still offer protection against this mutation, but it may not be as effective.
Should I get the flu shot (if I haven’t yet)?
- GET YOUR SHOT
- The shot is working, but may not be as effective depending on the strain of the flu you get
- Nothing replaces good hand hygiene
- Remind children to cough into their elbow to prevent the spread of infection
- Supportive care is important (preventing dehydration, fast breathing, and fever)
- As always seek medical attention when necessary