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US numbers indicate flu shots are performing acceptably against virus

Early estimates suggest that influenza vaccination is occurring successfully during the current U.S. winter influenza season.

The vaccine is about 40% effective at preventing adults from becoming seriously ill with the flu enough to have to go to a doctor’s office, doctor’s office or hospital, health officials said Wednesday at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine conference. Stated. Vaccinated children were about 60% less likely to be treated at a doctor’s office or hospital, CDC officials said.

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Officials are usually happy when flu vaccines are 40% to 60% effective.

Vaccinations tend to be more effective when they are a good match for the circulating influenza strain. Officials say that’s what happened during this — relatively typical — flu season.

In the United States, influenza vaccination is recommended annually for everyone six months of age and older. About half of eligible children and just under half of adults have received a flu shot in the past few months, according to CDC data. is recieving.

The CDC uses several systems to track vaccines. One is a network of hospitals that provide information about how well the vaccine protects against influenza-related illness severe enough to require hospitalization. The other utilizes outpatient data from emergency clinics and hospital emergency departments.

A flu vaccination sign appears on a screen at a pharmacy store in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, on Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Early estimates suggest that influenza vaccination is occurring successfully during the current U.S. winter influenza season. The vaccine is about 40% effective at preventing adults from getting sick enough from influenza to have to go to a doctor’s office, doctor’s office or hospital, health officials said Wednesday, Feb. 28. stated at the meeting. 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Hua)

Wednesday’s meeting of the committee that advises the CDC on vaccines presented estimates from four different surveillance systems. The findings were reported as a range, with the midpoint hovering around 40% for adults and around 60% for adults.

The efficacy estimates for adults are similar to those originally reported by the CDC for last year’s flu season. Vaccines have been found to be less effective in other recent seasons, but the results were influenced by which virus strains were predominant and how well the vaccines matched them.

One committee member expressed disappointment with the recent effectiveness findings.

“The benefits of annual influenza vaccination appear to be decreasing,” says Dr. Sarah Long of Drexel University.

Long asked whether repeated vaccinations each year could reduce the immune system’s response. CDC officials said some researchers are investigating this question, but so far there have been no conclusive results.

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“One of the things that consistently emerges from all this is that people are generally better off if they get vaccinated than if they don’t get vaccinated,” said Dr. Lisa Groschkopf of the CDC. ” he said.

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