2016-2017 Flu Vaccine Reducing Risk by Nearly Half

PUBLISHED: Feb 21, 2017

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that, based on early data, flu vaccines this season are reducing a vaccinated person’s risk of getting sick and having to be seen by a healthcare professional by about half (48%). The agency also reports that there are still weeks to go during the current flu season. The CDC recommends that flu vaccination efforts continue as long as influenza viruses are circulating.

This year’s flu season has been dominated by influenza A H3N2 viruses. While the Northwest of the country experienced flu activity earlier and now seems to be on the downswing, the Midwest and eastern coast of the country continue to experience increases in activity. Over the past 15 years, flu seasons have averaged 13 weeks in length; with a range of 1 week to 20 weeks.

According to data from the U.S. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Network, interim estimates show flu vaccine has been 48% effective in preventing medically-attended influenza A and B illness: Interim effectiveness estimates against the predominant influenza A (H3N2) viruses are 43% while the interim effectiveness estimate against influenza B viruses is 73%.

These interim estimates are consistent with vaccine effectiveness (VE) espitates from previous seasons during which vaccine viruses have been characterized as being “like” (well-matched to) circulating viruses based on standard characterization methods. During seasons with a less than optimal match, reduced VE has been observed.

With weeks to go during the current flu season, the CDC reminds healthcare professionals that vaccination at this time could still offer a protective benefit.

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