Flu virus mutations mean your shot may not be worth much this year: CDC
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said current flu vaccines may not be able to contain the disease’s current strain, CNN reported on Thursday.
“We could have a season that is more severe than most with more hospitalizations and more deaths,” CDC director Tom Frieden said.
Frieden said a new version of the flu vaccine would not be ready until early next year, given that each version takes about four months to produce.
The CDC said in a statement that about 48 percent of virus samples taken between Oct. 1 and Nov. 22 matched a particular strain, known as Influenza A or H3N2, that is not covered in this year’s vaccine.
According to Reuters, seasons when H3N2 is most active are more likely to see more deaths related to the disease — particularly among older patients and younger children — and higher rates of hospitalization. Frieden said five children have died from the disease so far this year.
However, the CDC is still advising people to get the vaccine so that they can be protected against other strains like influenza H1N1 and influenza B.
“You want to do anything you can to prevent getting it and to prevent giving it to other people,” said New York City pediatrician Lisa Thebner told CNN. “The vaccine isn’t perfect, but it’s the best protection we have for prevention.”