Flu still running rampant through most ME counties

Most doses of vaccine are made in a production process that involves growing viruses in chicken eggs where they can mutate and be less effective.
Associated Press  David Goldman

Most doses of vaccine are made in a production process that involves growing viruses in chicken eggs where they can mutate and be less effective. Associated Press David Goldman

It worked best for young children, aged 6 months to 8 years, where it was 59 percent effective. Although H3N2 has predominated, influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B viruses have also been in circulation across the country.

The CDC said that the overall effectiveness of this year's vaccine is 36 percent.

This season started early and has been driven by a formidable type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths.

The CDC said they believe in the USA, a better indicator is the vaccine's effectiveness previous year.

A recent government report showed 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu.

It is no surprise that that rise in the occurrence and spread of the flu coincided with a decrease in the proportion of the USA population that received the vaccination.

Of those who did have influenza, 43 percent had been vaccinated.

Gabriella Olsa, a senior sports studies major, is now recovering from the flu despite recieving the vaccination a month prior. Last flu season there were two pediatric flu-related deaths in MA.

"Scientists at the FDA, CDC, and NIH are working diligently to fully understand the basis of this finding, so that all of next year's vaccines can provide better protection in preventing the flu", states Gottlieb. That data will come later.

Others question the vaccine's effectiveness.

One of the flu strains spreading this season, H3N2, is affecting children more than most.

Ultimately, scientists say the only real solution is a "universal" influenza vaccine that would not only protect against seasonal flu but also guard against a future pandemic.

The low efficacy was not the result of a mistake, CDC acting director Dr. Anne Schuchat said.

"The strains that are circulating are the strains we predicted". That would be 2014-2015, when the CDC reported a 19% flu prevention rate and blamed a mismatch between the strains in the vaccine and the ones causing illness. People must get a new vaccine every year to be protected. Some are stronger for older people with weaker immune systems and some are made using newer technology. "Let me say that again - the flu vaccine is safe", said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. "Many schools have closed in an attempt to control the spread of the illness and doctors' offices are packed with patients seeking diagnosis and antiviral treatment".

Scott Hensley, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania who studies flu vaccines, said this year's vaccine is about as effective against H3N2 as last year's was, but it's still valuable to get the shot.

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