Though influenza cases are down compared to this time last year, the flu vaccine of 2014 is not as effective, warns a Breaking News report by CNN, because of a mutation in the influenza virus. CNN got its information from an advisory that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out to doctors across America.
According to the advisory, of 85 flu virus samples collected from October 1-November 22, 52 percent of them were different than the strains included in the flu vaccine available currently for 2014 consumption. This difference indicates that there has been a mutation of the virus, and that the vaccine might not be as effective at preventing the flu.
Influenza A (H3N2) is the most common virus strain that has been so far reported this flu season. Higher rates of death and hospitalization have been associated with this strain of influenza, especially for the elderly and anyone else who has a chronic health condition.
The CNN report stated that experts who met in February were responsible for choosing the three influenza virus strains that were included in the 2014 flu vaccine. Sometimes, the vaccine is a better match than it is other years to the virus strains throughout the United States.
Though the influenza vaccine this year might not be as effective as last year’s was, the CDC still recommends that people get a vaccination. They stated that the symptoms people experience who get the flu will be less severe if a person gets vaccinated, and the vaccine still can protect against other influenza strains as well as last year’s vaccine did.
Also, according to the CNN report, the antiviral medications Relenza and Tamiflu are important to treat people who have the highest risk of getting any complications from influenza, like children and the elderly or people with compromised immune symptoms.
The CDC stated that, of the 149 children who died during last year’s flu season, ninety percent were not vaccinated. Though the current levels of flu outbreaks around the United States are currently low, that could change, especially due to the mutation of the flu virus. Though the flu vaccine this year is not as effective as that of last year, the CDC still recommends that people get flu vaccinations.
Written By Douglas Cobb
Photo by Brett Weinstein – Creativecommons Flickr License