'Three-quarters of people who got a flu shot this year were not protected against H3N2 flu, the viruses that have caused the lion's share of disease in what has been one of the most difficult flu seasons in years in the United States, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the vaccine was more effective against influenza B viruses (42 percent protection) and H1N1 viruses (67 percent protection), that is cold comfort given that those viruses have been much more minor players this flu season, at least to date. That is especially true of H1N1; only about 8 percent of people who had a positive flu test this season were infected with viruses from that influenza A family.
The estimates, released Thursday, are part of an interim analysis of how well flu vaccine is working this year; data are continuing to be gathered and an end-of-season re-analysis should provide a sharper picture.
But the early indications help to explain why so many people have fallen ill with the flu in a season that has swamped hospitals across the country and appears on track to set records for hospitalization rates.
They are also raising concerns among people in public health about the credibility of flu vaccines.
"We are a bit concerned that the performance of the vaccine right now might reduce interest in getting vaccinated in the future," Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting CDC director, told STAT in an interview. "But we have the other side that flu was just so bad so far this season, so many people have been sick and see how miserable it is."'
Read more: Most People Who Got a Flu Shot This Year Aren't Protected From the Most Common Strain
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