Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seasonal flu packing a wallop as strains mismatch vaccine

Got the flu? You’re not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting this week that seasonal flu is widespread in 44 states. Unfortunately, some of the flu strains that are most prominent right now aren't "well-matched" for this year's seasonal flu formula, according to CDC. That means that even people who had their vaccination this year are getting sick — though their illness may be more mild than those who didn't get their shots at all.

Joe Bresee, branch chief for epidemiology and prevention in CDC's Influenza Division, told reporters during a Feb. 5 news conference that it is not easy to predict which strains are going to be circulating during each flu season. Decisions are made a year in advance so that the vaccines can be produced on time. (In fact, the World Health Organization just released its recommendations for a vaccine formula for next year's flu season.) So even though health officials thought they came up with the winning formula for this season, the flu proved them wrong — which happens occasionally.

Experts from CDC say that even though the vaccine isn't as effective as they had hoped, it still offers some protection. They're recommending that everyone still get their shots, as vaccination can mean the difference between a mild flu and a severe flu. (And it's not too late to get your shot!) Vaccination is especially important for children and the elderly, who have a higher risk of dying from the flu. In fact, 10 deaths from seasonal flu have already been reported among U.S. children this year.

Besides the flu vaccine, there are other tried-and-true prevention measures: Washing your hands, avoiding sick people, staying home from work when you are sick and using antiviral medications all can help. Following these tips can help in the fight against the flu more than ever this season.

1 comment:

Jason said...

There is also an update to this blog. It seems as though the FDA has chosen the strains that are to be included in next year's vaccination. The only problem is the Brisbane/10 flu strain takes a while to grow in the labs that develop the vaccines. This could prove to be challenging as they gear up for the fall flu season. Here is the link to the news.