Flu shot administration, flu shot protect you

Have you been vaccinated against the flu this year? Will the flu shot protect you from getting influenza? We won’t be able to answer that question for several months. That’s because it takes the CDC a long time to collect the data on vaccine effectiveness.

Even when there is a good match between the shot and the circulating strains of influenza, the vaccine is only about 40 percent effective on average. This year, though, it may not be even that good.

Will Doctors Be Disappointed in This Year’s Flu Shot?

A perspective published in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that the past flu season in Australia resulted in more hospitalizations and deaths than normal (Paules et al, NEJM, Nov. 29, 2017). The Southern Hemisphere is usually six months ahead in their flu season, so Australia has just finished its season of influenza infections. A preliminary analysis of vaccine effectiveness using Australian data estimates it at about 10% against H3N2. That is the predominant strain of type A flu this year. The authors note that our vaccine for the coming flu season is the same as the one that was used in Australia.

Should There Be a Universal Flu Vaccine?

According to The New England Journal of Medicine Perspective, vaccine makers have trouble matching the flu shot to the ever-changing influenza strains each year. The authors call for the development of a universal flu vaccine that would transform protection against influenza. We are still a long way from that, unfortunately.

In the meantime, the Perspective maintains, “However imperfect, though, current influenza vaccines remain a valuable public health tool, and it is always better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated.” This year, it seems reasonable to ask, will the flu shot protect you from catching influenza?

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  1. Larry M
    Raleigh, NC

    You asked “Will the Flu Shot Protect You from Influenza This Year?” Before I read the article, I estimated 35-40% likelihood. After I read the article, my estimate was unchanged.

    But you failed to answer the real question: Is 40% effectiveness enough to confer herd immunity on the US population? If it is, your articles should be more positive, to encourage a social good deed on your readers’ part. If it’s not, no need to encourage it.

    Looking forward to reading your response about herd immunity.

  2. Jonathan

    I’m just now recovering from a miserable six days of the flu, for the first time in at least ten years, and I did have a flu shot in early fall. It really took me by surprise!

  3. JUNEBUG14
    Houston, TX

    We got the “Flu” shot in early October and contracted INFLUENZA A in November!!! It took an EPIDEMIC in Australia to make the U.S. AMA admit that they left OUT that strain! Our “Flu” shot this year in America was only 10% effective!!! My sister-in-law is an ER NURSE and they had her take the shot and she is as sick as I am right now just trying to recover WITH antibiotics! Would we have survived without them? I doubt it!

  4. Malcolm

    Vitamin D3 supplements protects me from influenza and colds far more reliably than any flu shot. I take 10000 units a day and have for 14 years. I used to get flu/colds two-three times a season. I have not had any in those 14 years, nor have my wife and four children. Others that I stay in touch with have had like results since beginning to take D3 or, in the summer, getting lots of sunshine each day.

  5. Cathy

    In addition to the low level of effectiveness, what was the rate of side effects to the vaccine? Did you look at the toxic chemicals in the current vaccines? How much mercury? How much aluminum? (both neuro toxins) How much formaldehyde, a carcinogen? How much foreign animal tissue, which cause immune problems? How much antibiotics and polysorbates? I think I’ll take a pass on this one, thank you. C. Hood, RN, MS

  6. Laura E

    you really didn’t answer the question.

    • Laura E

      I mean, should I bother to get it?

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