The US health authorities have found the winter season's flu vaccine to be just 23 percent effective in preventing doctor visits for people of all ages. The vaccine's lack of punch is being blamed on multiple strains of the H3N2 virus that are circulating and making people sick, but that were not included in this season's vaccine.
The flu vaccine is generally most effective in young and healthy people under 65. But, this season, vaccine effectiveness has been highest at 26 percent in those aged 6 months to 17 years. The vaccine effectiveness was found to be just 12 percent for ages 18 to 49 years and 14 percent for people aged 50 years and older.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention stated that the flu vaccine for 2014-2015 is not the worst ever. The effectiveness of the vaccine in the past decade has ranged from 10 percent to 60 percent. However, CDC has urged doctors to ramp up the use of antiviral medications in people who fall ill with influenza.
Joe Bresee, branch chief in the CDC's Influenza Division said, "Physicians should be aware that all hospitalized patients and all outpatients at high risk for serious complications should be treated as soon as possible with one of three available influenza antiviral medications if influenza is suspected, regardless of a patient's vaccination status and without waiting for confirmatory testing."
The CDC is still recommending people to get a flu shot because it may help prevent severe infections and complications that lead to hospitalization or even death.