According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last years flu vaccine was only about 23% effective. Fortunately experts say this year’s vaccine will be much better because it matches with most of the types of flu going around.
Vaccines are made based on what strands of the flu scientists estimate will be most common. Guesses at which strands of the flu should be included in the vaccine are partially based on what strands were the worst the previous year. The predominant form last year was the ‘Switzerland variant’, part of the H3N2 strand. This is one of the 199 variants the CDC identified throughout the USA that will be included in the vaccine.
Seniors are more susceptible to influenza strains belonging of the H3N2 group. Last was the worst year ever for hospitalized senior due to the flu. Because of this, this year’s vaccine will protect against a much wider range of H3N2 influenza viruses.
The flu is always mutating into different types, which makes it impossible to make a vaccine that protects against every strain present in a year. Typically a vaccine will be 50 to 60% effective. The reason for last years low rate of success was because it wasn’t designed for H3N2 defense and this variant was quite common.
While this vaccine should be relatively effective, it’s very hard to predict just how effective a vaccine will be. It is always possible a surprise variant could arise and cause a lot of trouble.
This year, 171 million doses of the vaccine were made; this is enough to vaccinate over half of the United States population. It will be available in a variety of injection methods including nasal spray and ultra thin needle.
Dr. Tom Friedman, director of the CDC says “Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the flu.”