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Flu Vaccine Not Effective for Seniors

Update Date: Feb 21, 2013 03:30 PM EST
Flu like symptoms
D68 Enterovirus produces flu-like symptoms in children which are being treated with asthma medication. (Photo : Mcfarlandmo/Flickr)

An alarming government analysis reports that the flu vaccine may not be as effective as previously conceived to be. The U.S. analysis reveals that the vaccine benefited 56 percent of those who received it. It also reported that the vaccine did not help protect seniors at all from the deadly strain this cycle. These rates stress the importance of finding better alternatives for certain groups of the society in fighting influenza, a disease that can kill anywhere from 3,000 to 50,000 people year depending on the season. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also pressed for better options for the elderly since they are the ones most susceptible to influenza.

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"We simply need a better vaccine against influenza, one that works better and lasts longer," the director of the center, Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

The data was gathered from studies done on 2,697 children and adults that were a part of the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network during the times between December 3 and January 19. The data revealed that the estimation of the flu vaccine to be effective 50-70 percent of the time was in fact too high. Based off of a study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, this year's vaccine was more effective against influenza B as opposed to the influenza A H3N2 strain. It protected 67 percent as opposed to 47 percent of the people respectively. The vaccine was also recorded to have only protected nine percent of people 65 and older.

When broken down into specific groups, the vaccine was the most effective for people between six months and 17 years-old at 56 percent. The vaccine was 50 percent effective for those falling between 50 to 64 years-old, followed by a 46 percent rate for those between 18 to 49 years-old. Although there is no clear explanation as to why the vaccine was so ineffective for the elderly with influenza A, the analysis can help with developing  better options in the future for this age group. In the meantime, it is also very important to still get the vaccine because there is a chance it can help and to remember how to protect one from germs. 

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