The Short of It
Want to hear some really bad news? Remember those flu shots you diligently made your entire family get? Well, they may not be effective against this year's strain of the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that this season's predominate strain of influenza may be resistant to the flu vaccine! Oh joy!
"Unfortunately, about half of the H3N2 viruses that we've analyzed this season are different from the H3N2 virus that's included in this year's flu vaccine. They're different enough that we're concerned that protection from H3N2 viruses may be lower than we usually see," explained CDC Director Thomas Frieden.
This is not the first year the shot has been ineffective in protecting against certain strains of the flu. The virus can mutate and infect people who are vaccinated. Yearly vaccines are formulated before people start to get sick, so it's impossible to know how the virus will change.
Still, the vaccine may lessen the duration of the illness in some patient, and keep serious symptoms at bay, which lessens the chances of hospitalization and death. So despite the seeming ineffectiveness of the vaccine, the CDC still urges people to get the shot.
Frighteningly, the CDC is predicting that this flu season could be especially dangerous.
Children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women and the elderly are more susceptible to getting the flu. If you're concerned about yourself or a loved one who has become sick, don't hesitate to contact a doctor immediately. Receiving antiviral drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza may help to mitigate symptoms.