Rhonda Patt

Flu vaccine has problems this year

Q. I have heard the flu vaccine may not be as effective this year. Is this true?

A. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a health advisory alert earlier this month about this flu season. Before we get into the specifics of that advisory, it’s important to have some background information about the influenza vaccine.

Flu vaccines are given each year, prompting antibodies to be produced against influenza. The two strains of influenza A included in this season’s flu vaccine are H1N1 and H3N2.

Thus far, H3N2 has been the predominant circulating flu virus. The CDC’s health alert warns that the strains in this year’s vaccine don’t quite match up with the actual strains in H3N2 virus.

Nevertheless, the vaccine will still provide some level of protection against this strain. The vaccine is still effective against influenza B, as well as H1N1.

The health advisory was intended to alert high-risk individuals (children younger than 5, elderly, pregnant women and people with certain underlying health conditions) to seek medical treatment for suspected influenza. For more information, visit cdc.gov.

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