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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Update on Flu Season and Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

By February 20, 2014

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Get Your Flu Shot Now  - Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesEach year, after getting our flu shot, we wait and hope that it is a good match for the flu virus strains that are going around.

Will our flu vaccine work?

In a new report, "Interim Estimates of 2013-14 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness -- United States, February 2014," the CDC has estimated the effectiveness of this year's seasonal flu vaccine to prevent "influenza-associated, medically attended acute respiratory illness" at about 67% in children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years.

Overall vaccine effectiveness, taking into consideration all ages, was a little less, at 61%.

This is in line from what we learned during last year's flu season, when the flu vaccination prevented an estimated 6.6 million influenza illnesses, 3.2 million medically attended influenza illnesses, and 79,260 hospitalizations and 90% of pediatric flu deaths were in children who had not received a flu vaccine.

In another new report, "Influenza-Associated Intensive-Care Unit Admissions and Deaths -- California, September 29, 2013-January 18, 2014," we learn of 405 ICU and fatal influenza cases in California during this flu season, including three fatal influenza cases and 36 ICU cases were among children aged <18 years. Few had documentation that they had received a flu vaccine.

Lastly, in the report, "Update: Influenza Activity -- United States, September 29, 2013-February 8, 2014," we learn that over the last few weeks, flu activity has "decreased in the southeast and south central areas of the United States but began increasing in the west and northeast areas. Elevated influenza activity in parts of the United States is expected for several more weeks."

And that means that it isn't too late to get a flu vaccine and get protected for the rest of this year's flu season.

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