Flu Shot Credit: University Hospitals

CLEVELAND -- "Most of us think it will be a bad flu season," says Amy Edwards, MD, an infectious disease expert at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital. "If you look at the numbers in the southern hemisphere, they got slammed pretty bad."Infectious disease experts found this year's vaccine has only 10 percent effectiveness against the H3N2 strain of flu virus in the southern hemisphere, the predominant strain during their flu season, a good predictor of the flu season in the northern hemisphere. Dr. Edwards says the H3N2 virus mutated, causing the vaccine to be less effective but the prediction still isn't certain. "We don't know yet until we start our flu season," she says.Experts want about a 40 to 60 percent effectiveness at a minimum and consider 60 to 80 percent effectiveness a huge success. For comparison, last year’s flu vaccine was about 50 percent effective overall.

Flu vaccines protect against several strains of the flu virus and experts can’t predict which will be the predominant strain this season. So these initial reports shouldn't dissuade anyone from taking the usual preparations."The number one recommendation is still to get the flu vaccine," says Dr. Edwards. "Even when the vaccine can't prevent you from getting the flu, it can often help you have a more mild course."

2017-18 Flu Tips

1) Get the vaccine regardless

2) Wash hands frequently

3) Stay home if you get sick

Photo Credit: University Hospitals  

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