HOUSTON — Why could we be facing a messy flu season this year?
When it comes to making a flu vaccine each year, scientists are forced to make an educated guess. There are several strains of influenza, and they have to predict which strains will be the most prevalent. Then a vaccine is made to fight against those strains.
On average over the last decade the flu shot has been around 43 percent effective, meaning people who got the vaccine were 43 percent less likely to get sick.
Unfortunately, this year it appears the flu vaccine is a mismatch to the strain that is circulating. Research out of the University of Pennsylvania found the major strain, H3N2, has mutated in a way that makes the shot less effective against it. The lead researcher told CNN it is a major mismatch, which could explain why we are seeing flu outbreaks across the country.
So why are doctors still telling everyone to get a flu shot this year?
The research shows while the shot may not prevent you from getting sick it looks like it will prevent serious illness from that strain. In fact, it has been show consistently that seasonal flu vaccines prevent hospitalizations and deaths, even in year’s when the vaccine does not match the outbreak.
So it’s still a good idea to roll up your sleeve and get the shot.