The flu season is far from over, yet a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states this season’s vaccine for the flu strain primarily affecting children is only a 58 percent match.
“It’s not a very good match for B/Victoria,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told CNN Health. “It’s not an awful match, but it’s not a very good match.”
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is part of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Fauci said that while the flu shot will not be very effective for prevention of infection with the B/Victoria strain in children, it could still help protect them from becoming seriously ill and also prevent infection with the H1N1 strain of influenza for which the vaccine is “a really good match.”
In a video at the NIAID website, Fauci recommended tips for avoiding the flu this winter, including staying away from crowded areas and washing hands frequently.
“Key indicators that track flu activity declined slightly but remain high,” the CDC states in its latest “FluView” weekly report. “Indicators that track severity (hospitalizations and deaths) are not high at this point in the season.”
According to the CDC, at least 13 million flu illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 6,600 deaths due to flu are estimated to have occurred this season thus far.
The report notes that office visits to health care providers for flu-like symptoms dropped from 5.7 percent last week to 4.7 percent this week.
The overall hospitalization rate for this season is up to 19.9 per 100,000 people. The report observes the percentage of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza jumped up from 6.0 to 6.9 percent. The number of child deaths due to influenza this season is 39 thus far.
The CDC notes that influenza viruses “are constantly changing … and thus ongoing data collection and characterization of the viruses are required.”