Who should get the nasal flu vaccine?
During what's been one of the most notable flu seasons in recent years, new research has found that poor immune responses may be to blame for low vaccine effectiveness rates. The ACIP removed its endorsement for FluMist before the onset of the fall of 2016, and distributors stopped buying the vaccine (even though it still had US Food and Drug Administration approval). Vaccines are mostly grown in eggs, giving viruses the opportunity to mutate from circulating global strains.
"I know people have adverse reactions about getting vaccinated, but the last thing you want your child to die from is the flu", said Melanie Mickey, whose 7-year-old son gets vaccinated every year. It is one of five federally funded sites where outpatient clinics test vaccine effectiveness. "But people didn't distinguish between them and instead just saw cars".
The variability in vaccine effectiveness depends on many factors, including how well vaccine makers anticipate the various flu strains that will hit the United States as they circulate across the globe.
The study was published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Though the public generally considers vaccine production - which begins almost 1 year in advance of the season - to be the fault for low VEs, there's other variables in the production process that could be pointed to.
The most common viruses causing influenza in California have been the subtype known as influenza A (H3N2).
Cobey said more research needs to be done on this issue.
Military members are required to receive flu vaccines, however there is no such requirement for military dependents. In its most recent global flu update, the World Health Organization said the proportion of H1N1 detections now account for almost half of subtyped influenza A viruses and influenza B accounts for almost 45% of specimens. "They are looking at the way the virus replicates by two different methods, one of which was not being done before". FluMist was first approved 15 years ago. "That's progress but we still have a long way to go".
According to a Canadian study, elderly people who are sick with the flu are six times more likely to have a heart attack. The level of protection should not be a concern, as any level of protection is better than none, and the vaccine will help decrease the length of the illness and severity if you do become infected.
"It's an imperfect process, but it's the best we've got", Riley said. Significantly, she added, vaccine has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and prevent deaths.
If after seemingly recovering from the flu, a patient begins to experience a "rebound fever", this could be a sign of a severe, possibly life-threatening condition, and should seek immediate care, Riley said.