Rare good news: Flu shots are stronger than ever this year

Science and Health

Here’s some good news: CDC director Rochelle Walensky shared in her weekly briefing that she has good news about this year’s annual flu vaccine. 

Walensky told reporters that the vaccine appeared to be a good fit, effective against this season’s flu.

This is as cases of coronavirus and the flu are trending upward. Walensky called this trend “alarming” during the winter when people stay inside enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. She also noted that despite the good news, the number of people vaccinated is low compared to previous years.

The best way to protect against infection and serious illness from the flu is to get the annual flu vaccine, says the CDC. The vaccine is recommended for anyone over the age of six months. 

Walensky emphasizes that the flu vaccine can save lives and that there’s still time to get vaccinated to be protected against this season’s flu.

Pharmacist Zaineb Hassan prepares a seasonal flu vaccine for Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a pharmacy in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada November 5, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/PATRICK DOYLE)

According to statistics, every year, 20-30% of kids and 5-10% of adults in the general population get the flu. The vaccines provide good protection against the flu for one winter, and every Autumn, a vaccine with a new composition is produced which contains the three strains of influenza expected to be common in the winter, according to the decision of the World Health Organization. 

It’s not every year that scientists predict the coming strains accurately, but it seems that this year, they got it right.

The WHO says that almost every sample tested by public health labs in the States so far this year was positive for Flu A. Only 0.1% had the flu B. All the viruses tested so far this season were also sensitive to the four antiviral treatments currently recommended to treat the flu. 

Yet the real picture of how effective the vaccines are at warding off flu cases and serious illness will have to wait until the spring when the CDC starts to publicize results that show if fewer people developed the flu due to being vaccinated for the season.