During the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update of the influenza situation in the US to date on Friday, the issue of vaccines was a major topic. Director, Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dan Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H. said the following:
“Vaccination is our main tool to prevent influenza infection, and CDC recommends that vaccination efforts continue as long as influenza viruses are circulating. It about takes two weeks for protection from vaccination to set in, but as I said, we have a lot of flu season to get through still.
“We will see other flu viruses start to circulate later during the flu season and most flu vaccines protect against all four of those circulating viruses. The B viruses are still to really show up and take off. So getting a vaccine would help cover them as well.
“The manufacturers are reporting that they’ve shipped more than 151 million doses of flu vaccine so there should be product available to folks. One tool you can use is to go to the CDC website and look up the vaccine finder. This is a tool you can put your zip code in and it will help find where there are vaccines near you. I just want to make a quick point about vaccine effectiveness this season.
“In addition to being associated with increased severity, H3N2 seasons also are associated with vaccine effectiveness that is lower than what we usually see against H1NI or influenza B viruses. The preliminary vaccine effectiveness data from studies ongoing this season will not be available until at least mid-February. We’re still enrolling patients in our study sites and at this time, we’re using laboratory data to try to suggest how well our vaccines may work.
“Our information so far suggests that vaccine effectiveness against the predominant H3 viruses will probably be somewhere around what we saw in the 2016-2017 season, which was in the 30% range. While this is better than the 10% that has been reported from Australia in one study, it still leaves a lot to be desired and we’re very well aware we need to have better flu vaccines.”
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