During this difficult start to the flu season, with emergency rooms overwhelmed by new cases, it is dismaying to see so much public misunderstanding of the flu shot. Even with what appear to be lower-than-usual effectiveness levels, the vaccine still has the potential to prevent millions of people from being sickened. Importantly, in a year when the problematic H3N2 strain appears to be prevalent, getting the flu shot also can mean having a milder case of the disease.
Allison Winnike, president and CEO of The Immunization Partnership, explains all this and more in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Houston Chronicle:
Flu season arrived early and with a vengeance. We're confronted daily with saddening reports of how many people have died. In Texas, there have been 1,150 flu-related deaths reported between Oct. 1, 2017 and Jan. 12, 2018.
The main problem this flu season has been the H3N2 strain of the virus, which is particularly nasty. It mutates so quickly that it is difficult for scientists to develop an effective vaccine. The virus changes even during the vaccine development process, many months before flu season arrives.
Flu vaccine rates in the United States are generally far short of where they should be. Usually, about half of Americans are vaccinated each year, but almost everyone ages six months and older should be.
You can read the rest of the op-ed here.
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