The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this year’s flu vaccine is about 62 percent effective.
In other words, a person who takes the flu vaccine is 62 percent less likely to have to go to a doctor to get treated for the flu compared to someone who is not vaccinated.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden said this reflects “moderate” protection from the flu. Forty-seven states, including Texas, are seeing widespread flu outbreaks in January.
“Each year since 2005 and 2006, CDC has estimated the effectiveness of the seasonal influenza vaccine,” Frieden said. “We look at how likely that vaccine is to keep you out of the doctor’s office. We’ve also looked at how likely it is to prevent people from being hospitalized or dying from flu. Those numbers tend to be similar.”
The CDC does not keep track of adult deaths caused by the flu, but Frieden said 20 children have died from the flu this season, including six in Texas.
Dr. Manju Gaglani, section chief of pediatric infectious diseases at McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White, said the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine is about what she would expect.
“In general, flu vaccines are moderately successful during flu season,” Gaglani said. “This is what you would expect with a good vaccine match.”
Gaglani said the vaccine is especially effective for the young and healthy.
“They have a much better chance of avoiding the flu if they are vaccinated,” she said.
Health care professionals said adults over 65 are the most likely to get sick.
“The older population is being the hardest hit as far as we can see here in this area,” said Staci Moss, clinical pharmacy coordinator for Seton Medical Center Harker Heights. “Thirty to 40 percent of those patients swabbed here at our hospital test positive for flu.”
Gaglani and Moss both said it is not too late to get a flu shot.
Moss said there is another simple way to decrease the odds of contracting the flu virus.
“Wash your hands as often as possible,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.