NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – No vaccine is 100 percent effective. There are just too many variables: The strength of the person’s immune system, whether the vaccine matches the strain of the virus and so on.
Last flu season the CDC estimated that the vaccine was about 40 percent effective, reports CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.
This season’s flu vaccine seems to be working better. According to CDC estimates, the vaccine has reduced the risk of going to the doctor for flu-related illness by 47 percent overall this season.
The effectiveness is even higher among children between 6 months and 17 years, reducing doctors’ visits 61 percent.
“Numbers can change between now and at the end of the season,” said the CDC’s Dr. Brendan Flannery. “The important thing is the vaccine is providing some protection against the viruses that are circulating.”
The CDC says H1N1 is the predominant strain of the virus so far this season nationwide, although H3N2 is the predominant strain in the southeast.
Even though flu activity is lower than it was at this point last year, it is still responsible for somewhere between 155,000 and 186,000 hospitalizations and around 10,000 to 16,000 deaths.
“That puts it on track to be a season with a substantial number of deaths, that’s likely to rise,” said Flannery. “We also see 28 pediatric deaths so far this season, That’s also unfortunately likely to rise.
Health officials add after a slow start, flu activity has been picking up in the past few weeks and is now at the highest it’s been all season. Officials stress if you haven’t received a flu shot yet, there is still time to do so.