The Future of the Flu Shot
Reports this year about the flu vaccine’s effectiveness have varied widely. Some reports have suggested it may be effective only 10% of the time, while others have suggested it may be closer to 40% effective. Regardless, it appears to be below 50%, and that’s a problem.
And it’s been a problem for a while now. As the chart below demonstrates, the flu vaccine has averaged around 50% effectiveness since 2006. Only in 2010-2011 did it reach as high as 60%, and in 2014-2015 it was a dismal 19% effective.
Why isn’t the flu vaccine more effective?
Two reasons. First, scientists essentially guess each year which flu strain is going to be most prevalent which leads to manufacturing of a vaccine only for that strain. Needless to say, often they guess wrong. Second, the flu vaccine mutates quickly and effectively, scuttling everyone’s best laid plans.
What to do about it?
Scientists are working on ways to improve the vaccine. The most promising seems to be developing a vaccine that compels the immune system to target proteins on the flu virus that do not change from strain to strain. One note of caution, however: scientists have been working on this approach for about 40 years now, so far without success. You can read more here.
Despite a low rate of effectiveness, the flu vaccine can still save lives. In rare instances, though, it can also cause injuries like SIRVA. If you believe you have been injured by the flu vaccine, give our experienced team a call to evaluate whether you may be entitled to a cash award from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.