Among infectious diseases, flu is considered one of the U.S.'s leading killers
, photo: The Brownsville Herald/Jason Hoekema, via AP
21 of June 2017 19:18:18
NEW YORK – The flu vaccine did a poor job protecting older U.S. citizens against the illness last winter, even though the vaccine was well-matched to the flu bugs going around.U.S. health officials on Wednesday released new vaccine data showing it did a so-so job overall.The vaccine was about 42 percent effective in preventing illness severe enough to send a patient to the doctor's office. But it was essentially ineffective protecting some age groups. That includes people 65 and older — the group that's hardest hit by flu, suffering the most deaths and hospitalizations.The flu season that just ended was a long one that peaked in February and was considered moderately severe. But the flu-related hospitalization rate for older adults was the highest it's been since the severe 2014-2015 flu season.Like that season, last winter was dominated by a kind of flu — Type A H3N2 — that tends to cause more deaths and serious illnesses than other seasonal flu viruses.In four of the last seven flu seasons, flu vaccine was essentially ineffective in seniors, past studies suggest. The worst performances tend to be in H3N2-dominant seasons.Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides vaccine advice to the CDC.CDC officials said the numbers are preliminary. Investigators are trying to figure out whether past flu vaccinations made a difference in how well the most recent flu shot worked, and whether there's a way to check more people to see how quickly the vaccine's protection is lasting.Experts also are looking at whether certain brands of vaccine offer more protection than others. About 40 percent of older U.S. citizens get a higher-dose flu vaccine that is supposed to work better.Flu shots are recommended for virtually all U.S. citizens age six months or older.Among infectious diseases, flu is considered one of the U.S.'s leading killers. CDC estimates there are tens of thousands of deaths each year from flu and pneumonia.