Our Outmatched Flu Shots

The Washington Post reports that many flu strains are not covered by this year’s vaccine. More from David Brown:
This winter is likely to be one of the few times that public health experts lose the bet they make each year when they devise the formula for the flu vaccine -- eight months before the virus starts circulating in the fall. Experts must decide on the formulation then because of the time it takes to produce mass quantities of the vaccine.


"Most years, the prediction is very good," said Joseph S. Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "In 16 of the last 19 years, we have had a well-matched vaccine."

But probably not this time…

…The viruses in the vaccine are either dead or, in the case of the nasal-spray flu vaccine developed four years ago, crippled so they cannot cause illness. What they can do is stimulate the body's immune system to mount a defense, sometimes a lifesaving one, should the virus be encountered.

The viruses in each of these lineages are constantly changing through mutation. Inevitably, one appears that is different enough from its ancestors that a person protected against them, through either previous infection or vaccination, is not protected against the new variant.
Well, if you ask me. All this frenzy over flu shots is overkill. Perhaps Colin Hay and the cast of Scrubs would agree. Enjoy:


I love Dr. Cox…but not as much as Dr. Fuhrman of course.
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