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Flu Vaccine: Thinking about skipping it?

October 17, 2019


You may have heard that the flu vaccine is
only 10% effective this year. So you’re probably thinking you can just
skip getting the vaccine this year, right? Wrong! Every year experts work to match the flu vaccine
with the evolving strands of the virus that causes the flu. The 10 % figure came from how effectively
the vaccine protected against one type of flu virus circulating in Australia. Last year, the flu vaccine was about 39% effective
in the United States and the CDC has said that those numbers provide a better indication
of how well the vaccine will perform here this year. There are still plenty of reasons to get vaccinated,
even if the flu vaccine is not a perfect match. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent
flu infection. With up to 20 percent of population infected
with the flu and up to 49,000 flu-related deaths in the U.S. each year, it is the most
frequent cause of death from a vaccine-preventable disease in the U.S. When you receive the vaccination, your body
produces antibodies that protect against three or four different strains of the flu viruses. So, even if the vaccine is less effective
against one strain, you are still getting protection from the other variations. If you were to still come down with the flu,
the illness is usually less severe if you’ve had your flu vaccine. Since the flu is so common, the impact of
vaccination is high even when the vaccine is not the best match. The CDC estimates that during the 2015-2016
flu season the flu vaccine prevented 5 million flu illnesses and kept about 71,000 people
from having to be hospitalized. For example, with 10% effectiveness of the
vaccine, if we vaccinate 2/3 of our population we can prevent 13,000 people from being hospitalized. If the effectiveness is increased to 40%,
then we can prevent 60,000 people being hospitalized. For people with chronic medical conditions,
pregnant women, young kids and older adults, this is especially important. Flu vaccine saves lives. If you haven’t gotten your vaccine this
year, it’s not too late.

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