Flu vaccine for main strain not very effective, say experts

Flu vaccine for main strain not very effective, say experts
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WATCH: It?s the first Monday back for many on holiday break and experts are warning flu season is expected to be worse than previous years due to this year’s flu vaccine not being very effective. But even so, experts say getting vaccinated is your best shot at not spreading the virus and avoiding it all together. Luisa Alvarez reports.

Experts warn this year’s flu season could be worst than other years and with school back in session, it means its open season for the flu virus to spread.

?Flu season is something that all school districts are concerned about, so we do everything we can to prevent people from missing school and that includes all our staff. We provide in the fall free flu vaccinations for any staff that wishes it,” said Superintendent for Sooke School District 62 Jim Cambridge.

But this year, experts are warning that the flu vaccine may not be as effective against the severe strain of influenza A which is what appears to be the dominant strain throughout Canada.

“What we’ve seen with strains in the southern hemisphere is that the vaccine is not as effective,” said Dr. Shannon Waters, Island Health, Medical Health Officer.

And how the vaccine is made is to blame.

“We use in Canada an egg-based media to grow the vaccine and there has been some evidence to show based on studies that there may be some mutations of the virus when it’s growing in that media, so that’s why we are seeing the decreased effectiveness in this years vaccine,” said Dr.Waters.

To add to the expected severity of this year’s flu season, data shows the second strain of influenza B is circulating much earlier than usual. Which is why experts say getting vaccinated will still give you the best chance of beating the flu or have milder symptoms.

“Even though it is less effective than previous years it still has an efficacy level of 10 per cent for influenza A and we do have other strains circulating so within our vaccines three or four strains are covered so you can be covered for other strains of the flu as well,” Said Dr. Waters.

Island Health has finished their public flu shot clinics for the year but recommends going to your local pharmacy or clinic to get immunized. An online interactive map will let you type in your postal code and show you where to find one in your area.

While the majority of healthy people can get over the flu with no problems that may not be the case for elderly people, children under five and those with underlying conditions and according to experts, it can be one of the leading causes of death each year.

That is why washing your hands constantly throughout the day, having good cough etiquette, and staying home if you are sick along with getting vaccinated is still what experts are recommending to do.

“We watch flu very carefully throughout the health authority. We cant say how the rest of the flu season will roll out yet but what we’ve seen so far it has occurred a bit earlier and looks a bit more severe,” said  Dr.Waters.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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