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Will the Flu Vaccine Work Better in 2018?

doctor giving a woman a shot

If you felt like this past year was a miserable flu season, you are correct. In fact, it was classified in the “high severity” category, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- ranking as one of the worst for hospitalizations and flu-related deaths among children.

Last season’s flu vaccine was about 36 percent effective overall, but only 25 percent against the predominant viruses from the H3N2 subtype of influenza A. Here is what is new and different for 2018-2019:

  • This season’s influenza vaccine will include a different H3N2 component -- one that has performed better against recent viruses.
  • On August 1, Louisiana passed a new law that requires schools to provide information to parents during flu season – including the risks, causes and symptoms of the flu, and the availability and effectiveness of immunizations against the flu.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pediatricians give children the flu shot, using FluMist as a last resort for those who would otherwise not receive a flu vaccine. This represents a change from the previous two flu seasons when LAIV -- given by intranasal spray to healthy patients ages 2 through 49 -- was not recommended in any setting.

Even in years of low effectiveness, the flu vaccine is still the best protection against the illness, according to the CDC. The estimated number of flu illnesses prevented by flu vaccination during the 2016-2017 season was 5.3 million.

Discuss flu vaccine options – including the best timing – with your doctor. While flu season unofficially starts in October, the first round of the vaccines will start reaching healthcare providers this month.

Eric Frusha

Eric Frusha, MD
Louisiana Internal Medicine Associates

Phone: (225) 763-4111

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