Health Officials: Flu Shot May Only Be 10% Effective This Season

The Centers for Disease Control said MA was one of four states to report widespread flu activity in the country the previous week.

The numbers also show vaccinations are ahead of last year's pace.

The paper also noted that the flu vaccine "mismatch" seen in Australia this year could be related to the way most flu vaccines are now made: using chicken eggs to "grow" the flu virus strains.

This year's flu vaccine was also found to have been only 10 percent effective on one strain of the flu, called H3N2 in Australia.

Anyone can get the flu, regardless of age, race, gender, or ethnicity, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

"As clinicians in the United States prepare for the start of another influenza season, experts have been watching the Southern Hemisphere winter for hints of what might be in store for us in the north", Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and colleagues wrote in a recent paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Yearly vaccines are necessary because influenza viruses are continuously mutating.

Dr. Gordon said so far, the Cleveland Clinic Health System has already seen about two dozen cases of the flu, which is the sporadic category, but is not yet considered widespread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the flu has caused between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010. The American flu vaccine uses the same composition, they note.

In other words, we already have a problem with getting a good match between the vaccine and the virus, and growing the vaccine in eggs may make the match worse, including with this H3N2 strain.

If someone is infected despite vaccination, generally they have a milder illness than if they'd skipped the shot, doctors have said. The CDC and the California Department of Public Health are recommending everyone over six months old get vaccinated.

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. The very young, very old, and people with existing medical conditions are most at risk.

You better stock up on chicken soup this year. But flu vaccine doesn't protect against colds or other respiratory viruses that people can confuse with influenza.

The CDC is reporting hundreds of new flu cases every week.

  • Aubrey Nash