The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s flu vaccine is providing substantial protective benefit, especially for children. Flu vaccines are reducing doctor visits related to flu by 45% overall and 55% in children, according to preliminary estimates from the CDC. “The season has been more severe in children than in previous seasons,” says Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the CDC. He adds, “And that may have to do with the type of influenza that’s circulating. Influenza B can be more severe in children.”
Flu vaccine effectiveness typically ranges from 40%-60%. This season got off to an early and unusual start with Flu B viruses dominating and now, a second wave of Flu A H1N1 is hitting. So far, the vaccine appears to be less effective against H1N1 for younger adults.
In the U.S. there have been at least 26 million illnesses, 250,000 hospitalizations, and 14,000 deaths from flu so far this season, according to the CDC. Health officials are still urging people to get a flu shot because the season is far from over. “Right now the map of the United States looks pretty red and that means that there’s a lot of flu activity. Most of the areas have the highest level of flu activity that we see during the season,” says Flannery.
And it’s worth remembering that you should wash your hands, cover your cough and sneeze, and stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading the virus.