Will The Flu Shot Really Work This Year?
After a tough 2014-2015 flu season, in which whole families lay bundled in bed for days, heads throbbing, chests congested and throats parched, Americans are wondering if the vaccine will work this time around. It may seem that these shots are hit-or-miss. Sometimes, friends who fail to get the flu vaccine fare better than those who get one religiously.
Why the Flu Vaccine Does Not Work At Times
There is a logical explanation for why the flu vaccine seems to have problems doing its job. Scientists have to prepare the vaccine prior to the beginning of the flu season, which ranges from October to May, with a peak time for cases between December and February. They base the vaccine on projections of which strain will prove most debilitating. There are three strains, influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and influenza B, that are the most common viruses.
Using data collected in the Southern Hemisphere, which experiences its seasons opposite of those in North America, the scientists prepare dosages to dispense across the country. It is this vaccine that patients receive in hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.
In 2014-2015, things went badly, which is always a possibility. The flu vaccine proved a dismal 13% effective, compared to the 50% norm. Since the vaccine needs creation prior to the flu season, there is little that can be done once distributed and injected. Influenza has the ability to mutate, changing into a variation of the dominant strain. In 2014-2015, there was a mutation, a version of the H3N2, known as the “Swiss Variant.”
Those flu victims unaware that viruses can mutate tend to feel cheated. Their shots should have saved them, they believe. Yet, most would probably have suffered more severely without the protection.
What Will Happen in 2015-2016?
So, will the flu shot work any better in 2015-2016? Some medical professionals believe so, for two reasons. First, innovations have cut down on the vaccine processing time. Consequently, producers can create and dispense the vaccine later in the Southern Hemispheric flu season. They thus have a greater opportunity to observe the probable North American strain.
Second, the evidence shows that in 2015, the H3N2 strain dominated the Southern Hemisphere. After learning more about H3N2 last year, scientists believe themselves able to prepare a vaccine that will provide optimal protection.
Get a Flu Shot or Not
With the possibility still present that the flu shot will not be effective, Americans have to decide if it is worth the fuss to get one? The vaccine is widely available, so many will go in for a vaccination out of habit. Should they even bother? What about the elderly?