Get flu shot, doctors say, even if vaccine not completely effective

Even if a flu shot does not provide total protection against sickness, getting one can reduce the severity of the reaction, doctors say.
By Chad Young | Nov 13, 2017
Medical experts say this flu season could be especially tough and are urging people to get flu shots even if the vaccine is not 100 percent effective.

Last year's vaccine was only 42 percent effective, Dr. Tara Narula told "CBS This Morning," explaining that it is still important for everyone to get a flu shot.

"Because the flu can be deadly, because it can be serious in terms of hospitalizations, even 42 percent is beneficial," Narula said. "And even if it's not a perfect math, you may generate antibodies to a strain that is similar and that can decrease the severity of the reaction that you have."

It is too soon to know which strain of flu will predominate this year, said Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reported by HealthDay. If the H1N1 strain predominates, the vaccine could be close to 60 percent effective, but if it is a H3N2 year, then it could be a rough season.

New technologies exist that might lead to a shift away from using chicken eggs to prepare influenza vaccine antigens, according to Dr. John Treanor, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Rochester in New York, in the HealthDay report.

One method involves using animal cells as the production matrix. Another approach uses DNA techniques to synthesize the vaccine directly from the virus. However, scientists do not yet know if these methods would be superior to using chicken eggs.

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