Why You Cannot Rely on the Flu Vaccine This Year

We are in the height of the flu season, and as with every year you see signs all over the neighborhood advertising flu shots. Doctors recommend that everyone get a flu shot to keep healthy during the season, and usually flu shots are a great line of defense. This year, unfortunately, flu shots have not been providing their accustomed protection.

Common Strain Dangers

The flu vaccine this year appears not even to protect against the most common strain of the illness, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the current strain has historically lead to very deadly seasons. The strain, which is normally the most common one against which the vaccine protects, has mutated.

Minor Mutation

The mutation is minor, but is just enough to lessen the effectiveness of the vaccine. It is not a surprise that the virus has mutated; this is common for flu strains. Unfortunately, the mutation was discovered too late in the season to develop a new vaccine for this year. Where usually the vaccine provides a very high level of protection, experts estimate that this year’s inoculation will only provide about 50% protection against the most common strain of the virus.

Why It Cannot Be Fixed

Normally, the vaccine is developed in February for the coming year, a full ten months before the flu season. This is because it takes time to synthesize and produce the vaccine; late-stage changes are difficult or impossible to produce.

First Line of Defense

Still, this is not a reason to forego your vaccine. The new mutation can infect vaccinated persons, but the infection will be minor in relation to cases suffered by those who are not vaccinated. This means that while the vaccine will not completely protect you, it still does provide some defense. Doctors are still in agreement that the best defense against sickness is to get vaccinated.

Why Get Vaccinated?

Many might wonder why they should get vaccinated if the protection is not complete. Put simply, some protection is better than none. The current vaccine will still lessen the symptoms you suffer if you get infected and can keep the infection minor enough that you can avoid hospitalization or even death if you are in a high-risk group such as the very young, very elderly or have other medical complications.

Treating the Disease

If you do contract the flu, doctors still recommend taking anti-viral medications within the first two days after showing symptoms. Meds such as Tamiflu and Relenza become less effective the further along the illness progresses. For most people, the flu will run its course and pass. Only in very severe cases, in the very old or very young, in pregnant women and in those with medical complications can it be deadly. Still, if you think you have the flu, you should talk to your doctor.

Are you getting vaccinated this year? What do you think about this development? Leave a comment below and let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!

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