Preliminary data released Feb. 15 estimates the 2017-2018 flu vaccine to be 36 percent overall effective at preventing flu illness. Washington’s health officials want everyone to know it isn’t too late to get a flu shot since flu activity is still expected to be high for several more weeks.
This year is a reminder of how unpredictable and serious flu can be. Every flu season is different based on many factors including the circulating viruses and how well the flu shot protects against those viruses.
“Washington has seen a lot of the H3N2 strain of flu, which causes more severe illness in young children and those over 65 years old,” said Washington state’s Communicable Disease Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist. “This year’s vaccine protects against H3N2, but that strain of the virus is known to change frequently throughout the season, making the vaccine less effective against the virus. Protection is higher against other strains included in the vaccine and can help flu illness be milder and shorter for those who still get sick.”
The Department of Health urges everyone aged six months and older, including pregnant women, to knock out flu with a flu shot. Visit KnockOutFlu.org for places to get your vaccine, weekly flu activity updates, and frequently asked questions and concerns about the flu vaccine.
“There are important steps to take to avoid getting the flu; get a flu shot every year, avoid contact with sick people, wash your hands often and stay home if you’re sick. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but they still provide some protection against serious flu complications, including death,” Lindquist said.