Photo (cc) by USACE Europe District
It would be great if your flu shot were guaranteed to protect you from whatever strain is rampant each flu season. But that’s not the case, particularly this year.
This year’s flu vaccine is not a great match for the flu strains that are most active so far this flu season. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the vaccination.
“While some of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death,” the CDC said.
Scientists have to figure out a full year before each flu season which strains the vaccine should protect against.
The Albuquerque Journal reported earlier this month:
Testing shows that an H3N2 strain is emerging as the predominant flu virus this fall, and viruses of that type typically cause the most severe illness among older people.
Compounding the threat: The H3N2 strain doesn’t match up with this year’s flu vaccine, because it emerged too late.
In fact, the CDC has said that more than 60 percent of the flu virus found this flu season is the new, “drifted” or mutated, H3N2 strain, the Journal wrote.
Meanwhile, the flu season has gotten off to a nasty start with widespread outbreaks in many states. William Schaffner, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told MarketWatch:
“It started early and it started rather fiercely. Cases of influenza are up all across the country and they’re continuing to climb.”
Click here to see a map of influenza activity for all 50 states.
While this year’s flu shot may provide you with limited protection against influenza, there are other things you can do to protect yourself. Washing your hands with soap and water can kill or reduce germs. Hand sanitizers are an alternative. And keep your hands away from your face.
Some protection is better than nothing, right?
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