The flu shot is reducing the risk of influenza infections in the U.S. by nearly 50%, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The most common virus strain this year is influenza A (H3N2). The CDC says that the effectiveness of the vaccine is preventing this strain is around 43%. Meanwhile, the flu shot’s effectiveness against the influenza B strain is 73%. As a result, the CDC says the overall protection against the flu this year is 48%.
The study examined data from November 28th through February 4th and analyzed over 3,000 children, and adults enrolled in the United States Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network. The government agency uses that data from Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network to estimate how well the flu vaccine protects individuals from contracting the virus.
In comparison to previous years, during 2015 to 2016 flu season the vaccine was 47% effective. Also, during the 2014 to 2015 flu season, the vaccine was only 19% effective, according to the CDC.
Brendan Flannery released a statement regarding the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
“The viruses in the vaccine are a good match for the circulating viruses this season,” Flannery said.
“The prediction for the H3N2 virus was right on regarding that particular virus continuing to be a dominant virus, Flannery added”
Flannery pointed out that the H3N2 strain was not very common last year. In fact, that particular strain first arrived two years ago. “This vaccine is a much better match for the circulating virus than the vaccine we had two years ago.”
The CDC tells unvaccinated people who are six months old or older to get the flu vaccine still this year.
“Influenza activity may have peaked where there were early peaks in the Northwest and on the West Coast,” Flannery explained. “Activity is increasing in some of the Midwest and the East Coast.”
The flu shot is an inactivated influenza virus. Every year, a group of scientists, physicians and public health researchers in the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices decide which virus strains will go into the vaccines and sold for the upcoming flu season. Researchers collect data from various countries, and scientists measure how the virus spreads across the country.
Earlier this year, researchers discovered virus such as the influenza virus affects men differently than women. Researchers reported that viruses are deadlier for men than women. Evolutionary biologists argue viruses have evolved to affect women differently to spread to future progeny.