CDC: Vaccine Only 25% Effective Against Dominant Strain of Flu This Year

Effectiveness can vary depending on type of virus, spokesman says

A national briefing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday held some less-than-encouraging news for those following the ongoing flu epidemic.

Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director of the CDC, confirmed that flu activity in the United States remains high, and figures to remain at that level for several more weeks.

Hospitalization rates for influenza are at their highest rate in at least 10 years.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report reported that vaccinations against influenza A and B were showing a 36 percent effectiveness rate. However, 2018’s dominant strain of flu, H3N2, came in far lower with only a 25 percent effectiveness rate.

The encouraging portion of the news, however, is that H3N2 is an A virus, which has led to this season’s most severe cases. In recent weeks, the B and H1N1 viruses have been common—and vaccinations against H1N1 have shown a 67 percent rate of effectiveness.

It would stand to reason, therefore, that getting a flu shot is still a wise decision. The CDC reported 63 pediatric fatalities due to influenza this season. Schuchat reported that approximately 75 percent of fatal cases occurred in patients who had not received a flu shot.

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