The flu vaccine used now protects people about half the time, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. But while the numbers are not as good as last year’s, they are still far better than other years, they reiterate.
The CDC released a statement in the agency’s weekly report, saying, “Interim influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates for the 2016-17 season indicate that vaccination reduced the risk for influenza-associated medical visits by approximately half,” NBC News reports.
The vaccine lowered the risk of patients having to visit the hospital or the emergency room by around 48%, according to the CDC’s calculations. There are around six different flu vaccines that are made of various formulas to fight against three or four kinds of flu strains.
When taken together, these vaccines proved 43% effective against the H3N2 viruses most common in 2017 so far, and 73% effective against influenza B, the research team added.
Flu viruses spread yearly because they constantly mutate and change from one country to the next, which is why new flu vaccine formulas are concocted to fight them all the time.
The flu has killed 20 children so far this season. “Since influenza-associated pediatric mortality became a nationally notifiable condition in 2004, the total number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths per season has ranged from 37 to 171,” the CDC stated.
This does not include thee 2009-2010 season, when H1N1 swine flu was a new strain – it killed 358 kids then.
The viruses kill up to 50,000 people in any given year, most of them older adults. The flu also brings in some quarter-million people into the hospital. It is still a widespread illness. The CDC said,
Influenza activity is likely to continue for several more weeks in the U.S., and vaccination efforts should continue as long as influenza viruses are circulating.
So far in 2017, it has been a moderate year compared to previous years. But the CDC warns that everyone should remain cautious. “Elevated influenza activity in parts of the U.S. is expected for several more weeks. Healthcare providers should continue to offer and encourage vaccination to all unvaccinated persons age six months and older.”