What we Learned From Last Year’s Deadly Flu Strain & This Year’s New Vaccine

Healthy Living

November 4, 2015

Don’t Let Last Year’s Flu Prevention Failure Keep You From Getting Your Flu Shot This Year

If you got a flu shot last year and got seriously ill anyway you weren’t alone, here’s why. Last fall after the flu vaccine had already been created a mutated strain of the Type A flu spread rampantly across the U.S. only about 13 percent of those who got their flu vaccine were protected from the mutated strain. Normally flu vaccines are effective for 50 to 60 percent of the people who get the flu shot and those who do get the flu typically don’t get as sick as those who do not get a flu shot at all.

More and Better Options Available This Year

After the dismal performance of last years flu shot health officials are concerned that the number of people getting their annual flu shot will decrease this year and therefore have stepped up their efforts to make this years vaccine as effective as possible by making a change in the formula and offering it in different delivery forms. Besides the typical flu injection (shot), this year a needle-free injection will be offered, as well as nasal sprays or the tiny skin deep needles being used in recent years. No matter what type of flu shot you choose the bottom line is, don’t skip the flu shot especially if you are in a high risk category.

The Centers for Disease Control suggest everyone six months and older get an annual flu shot, but it is especially recommended for people who are at high risk for developing flu related complications such as:

People Who Are at Higher Risk of Flu Complications

  • Pregnant women
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Children under 5 years old (particularly 2 and under)
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People residing in long-term care facilities

People With Pre-existing Health Issues:

  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Blood Disorders
  • Asthma
  • Lung Diseases
  • Cancer
  • Morbidly Obese people with a BMI above 40

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control admitted that last year was “a bad year for flu” acknowledging that flu related complications and hospitalizations of seniors were the highest ever recorded in the 25 years the CDC has been keeping track. But Dr. Frieden assures the public that this year’s vaccine has been improved. “So far, the strains in this year’s vaccine seem likely to match,” said Frieden. He also stressed that the CDC is closely monitoring genetic fluctuations for the possibility of mutation. This year’s flu vaccines protect against three or four different strains of flu, but even if this year’s flu mutates the vaccine is still your best protection against developing flu related complications.

When Should You Get Your Flu Shot?

About 141 million doses of flu vaccine will be prepared for this coming flu season, of which less than one third of the doses (forty million) have been shipped to doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics, drug stores and other facilities. Vaccinations have already begun, because the vaccine takes about two weeks before its takes full effect. Also it’s best not to wait till there is an epidemic of flu in your area before getting your flu shot, when sometimes the sudden demand for the vaccine could lead to temporary shortages …the early bird gets the worm.

When is Flu Season?

The flu can strike at any time of the year, but the traditional flu season is known to begin as early as October although typically peaks between December to February and has gone all the way through to May. There really is no “definitive” flu season or method of predicting where or when an epidemic will occur.

Will There Ever be a Cure?

Influenza or more commonly called Flu has been around since the first recordings of mankind and try as they may researchers work more towards keeping up with the mutating strains of influenza than finding the elusive cure. One of the main goals of the CDC is to lessen the vaccines production time, this would allow more time to observe whether a mutation is beginning to form. Of course the ultimate goal would be to find a cure, but the CDCs next best option is to create a “universal vaccine” that would be effective on numerous strains of the flu, last month researchers made a small step in that direction. And though progress is being made every day, Dr. Frieden of the CDC says that broad spectrum vaccines are still “a few years away at best.”