Flu Vaccine Less Effective Than Usual

Nicole Krage, Layout Editor

Lewis University students may be hearing more coughing and sneezing more frequently this semester. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has determined that the flu vaccine this year is only 23 percent effective against H3N2, the predominant strain, according to an article by ABC News.

It is common for viruses to mutate and change over time, forcing the CDC to alter vaccines to continue protection. Unfortunately, this year’s strain mutated after the vaccine was chosen in February.

“Between [February] and now the flu virus mutated significantly,” said ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser in the article. “Unfortunately, it is too late to make a change for this year. We are stuck with the vaccine we’ve got.”

ABC News referred to the vaccine as “one of the worst performances in the last decade,” compared to vaccines that were, at best, 50 to 60 percent effective in the last 10 years.

Though its performance isn’t as strong, the flu vaccine is not a lost cause. Still in the midst of flu season, Director of Health Services Michelle Ronchetti, RN, believes it is important for individuals to get vaccinated.

“Vaccination can still prevent some infections and can reduce the severity of the infection if a person contracts the flu,” Ronchetti said. “At the least, the flu can knock you out for up to a week, causing missed classes, work and other activities. At the worst, the flu can lead to serious complications requiring hospitalization.”

Luckily, Lewis students have remained adamant in protecting themselves against the flu. Last year, Lewis administered  about 600 doses of the vaccine, with just over 575 going to students, according to Ronchetti. This year, in the fall alone, about 800 doses of the vaccine were administered, with over 625 going to students.

Nothing is foolproof against the flu virus, but some protection is better than none. Ronchetti recommends that students wash their hands frequently, avoid touching the T-zone—their eyes, nose and mouth—and continue to get vaccinated.

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