Vaccines by the Numbers: A public health achievement
This year’s flu season may be rougher than usual, as early reports show the vaccine is only about 10 percent effective.
The vaccine may have been mismatched for the strains that are spreading this year, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This year’s vaccine is proving to be about 10 percent effective, and Australia — which uses the same type of vaccine and generally has its flu season during U.S. summer — is seeing record-high numbers of cases and higher hospitalizations than usual, according to KMOV.
Four states already have widespread flu activity, while there was no real spread at this point last year, according to NBC News. The dominant strain appears to be H3N2, which causes more severe illness than others.
Seasonal influenza causes 3-5 million severe cases and up to half a million deaths every year worldwide. The U.S. sees 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths every year from the flu.
However, even an imperfect vaccine can help prevent or lessen the severity of illness, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. Everyone age 6 months and older is recommended to get a vaccination.