With the flu season approaching, doctors are once again recommending that patients get a flu shot to protect themselves. Yet with the lack of effectiveness of last year’s flu shot, many have reserves about getting their annual vaccination. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that this year’s shot packs a greater punch.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, this year’s flu shot protects from a new viral strain, known as A/Switzerland/9715293/2013. This strain was the flu responsible for the greatest amount of illnesses during the previous year’s flu season.
However, the strain emerged too late last year to be included in the flu vaccinations released to the public. As a result, the overall effectiveness of 2014’s flu vaccination was a measly 23%.
Considering that, on average, between 5 and 20% of Americans come down with the flu each year, the CDC strives to make this year’s vaccination more effective.
To improve the shot, flu researchers at the CDC thoroughly examined 199 different flu specimens collected in the United States and other nearby areas. Of the 80,000 specimens that were tested by the CDC and their agents, only 2.1% of them turned out to be a flu strain. According to the organization’s report, viruses have been confirmed in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
In addition, the CDC researchers also tested 169 different flu specimens to see if they have developed any resistance to the current antiviral drugs.
”Annual influenza vaccination is the best method for preventing influenza and its potentially severe complications,” the CDC said on their 2015 report. “While vaccine effectiveness can vary, vaccination has been shown to reduce influenza illnesses, doctors’ visits, influenza-related hospitalizations, and deaths.”
While doctors are confident that this year’s flu vaccination will be better than the last, researchers stress that they are not able to predict which flu strains will cause the most trouble or how the vaccine deals with the strain.
The United States is expected to receive between 171 million and 179 million doses of the flu vaccination for distribution. In addition to regular flu shots, people are now given the option to choose a shot that is injected into the skin rather than the muscle, requiring a much smaller needle. Vaccinations can also be administered through jet injectors or with nasal sprays.