Traditional rapid flu tests, still the most common type, requires a swab deep in the nasal cavity and are just 50-70 percent accurate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, the average overall effectiveness of the flu vaccine between 2008 and 2016 was 46.5 percent. At the beginning of flu season in NY in December 2017, over 69,000 cases have been confirmed by officials, and approximately 14,350 of those diagnosed required hospital treatment; in addition, at least five children have died as a result of the ongoing flu epidemic thus far.
"We continue to recommend parents get their children vaccinated even though it's late in the season", Dr. Anne Schuchat told CNN. A person's immune response could be worse at making effective antibodies, even if the vaccine protects against the right strains.
On Thursday, the CDC announced that the current flu vaccine is preventing sickness in around 36 percent of vaccinated Americans. Public health experts do their best each year to select the influenza viruses against which the vaccine should provide protection. Sixty-three children have already died from influenza this season.
In Massachusetts, there was a slight increase in flu-like illness this past week. Sharing is caring, but the flu virus is contagious for 24 hours before symptoms appear, so you're better safe than sorry.
The severity of this year's flu outbreak is apparent when you look at the numbers from last year; in 2017, 12,912 people were hospitalized due to the disease.
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Steve Jones, pharmacy manager at CVS, said earlier this year they ran out of Tamiflu, an antiviral available by prescription, but have a pretty good stock now.
In the US for the most deadly strain of flu, H3N2, this year's vaccine is actually performing slightly better than in Canada and Australia.
Egg adaptations may be a factor during this year's record-breaking flu season as well.
Instead, the vaccine may falter over a phenomenon called the 'original antigenic sin'. This information, together with surveillance information provided by the CDC, offers important insight into the selection of the next season's vaccine strains and into whether any changes in the vaccine development process need to be made. It would protect people from many strains of the flu. Thus, for egg-based vaccines, the lower-than-desirable efficacy being observed is not likely related to the process of adapting the virus to grow well in eggs.
People with the flu are infectious for up to seven days after symptoms begin, the Health Department noted.