In light of the upcoming flu season and the advent of flu vaccines via flu crew over the next few weeks, I’ve decided to focus this week’s post on this year’s projected flu outbreak.
If the past is any indication, between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans will die this year from flu-related causes. Yet, only 45% of Americans got vaccinated during the 2013-2014 flu season, leaving the majority of individuals vulnerable to infection. Influenza thus presents a great public health challenge to the United States. To give some perspective, less than a handful of people have died in the United States from the Ebola outbreak so far.
88 million doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed around the country in preparation for flu season. These vaccines will protect against at least 3 strains of flu: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus, and B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus. Some vaccines will also include protection against the B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus). All vaccines are therefore either trivalent or quadrivalent, treating 3 or 4 strains of flu.
While researchers have done their best to provide the best vaccine “match” to the projected outbreak, there is no guarantee that these particular strains will be the primary ones circulating around the world. However, flu vaccines can still provide protection against the flu even if they don’t target the particular strain of flu that one is infected with.