The bad news: As many found out the hard way, last year’s flu shot wasn’t as effective as it’s been in previous years.
The good news: This year’s version should do a much better job protecting people against the flu, federal health officials are saying.
An analysis of the most common strains of flu virus that are circulating in the United States and elsewhere found they match the strains included in this year’s flu vaccine, the federal CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Director Thomas Frieden said.
“Last year’s vaccine was only 13 percent effective against the H3N2 strain,” Frieden said during a news conference at the end of September. “As a result, more seniors were hospitalized for the flu than ever before.”
Officials recorded the highest hospitalization rate from the flu among the elderly ever documented, Frieden noted.
“What’s more, 145 children died from the flu,” Frieden said, adding that the actual number was probably much higher since many flu deaths aren’t reported.
“The vaccine for the 2015-16 season contains the H3N2 strain,” Frieden said.
His parting advice?
“Get vaccinated. That’s the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community against flu.”
In addition to getting vaccinated, Frieden also urged people who get sick from the flu to stay home and to start taking antiviral drugs as soon as they can. Antiviral drugs can minimize the symptoms and help people get better faster, he said.
The CDC recommends annual flu vaccinations for people 6 months and older. The flu season in the U.S. has already started may stretch into May. Cases typically peak between December and February. Health officials are asking people to get their shot and trust that this year’s vaccine comes with better protection than last year.
AFC/Doctors Express in Memphis can test patients for the flu as well as prescribe antiviral drugs if you get checked soon enough. For more on antiviral drugs and when they should be taken, click here. You can also get your flu shot (if you don’t have the flu) with no appointment necessary at AFC/Doctors Express in Memphis.