As you may know, getting immunized ahead of the flu season can help protect you from viruses. But how effective is the flu shot and can it really prevent the flu? Before we answer this question, it is important to understand exactly how the vaccine works.
The Lowdown on Flu Vaccines
While the flu vaccines should prevent the spread of the flu, they might not always be effective. That’s because viruses evolve all the time and become more resistant. Only in the last decade, we’ve had pandemics of the swine flu, as well as the bird flu.
The most prevalent type of the influenza virus is different almost every year. But as the flu viruses evolve, so does the flu vaccine. Scientists are constantly perfecting the vaccine to make it effective against the current top strains of the flu virus. As such, the current vaccine provides immunization against the A(H3N2) strain.
How Effective Is the Flu Shot?
There is a lot of talk about the effectiveness of the standard flu shot in the US. The main problem is that viruses evolve faster than scientists can perfect the formula. The effectiveness of the vaccine has thus seen a downward trend in recent years. So, how effective is the flu shot right now?
In the 2013/2014 flu season, the flu shot was effective in more than 44% of the cases. This was an 8-year high, but it all changed the very next year. According to the CDC, the effectiveness was just above 10%. The experts can’t determine how effective this year’s vaccine is until the flu season is over. But last year’s estimates are now at 32%, which is encouraging after a particularly difficult flu season of 2014/2015.
Should You Still Get It?
Each year, more than 4,000 people in the US die from flu-related health complications. While the effectiveness of the standard vaccine can vary, it is still the only way to protect yourself from the viruses. And if you didn’t get your shot on time, you can still get it during the season.