Sunday July 5th, 2020 1:00AM

Flu vaccine was disappointing vs. some strains last season

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — The flu vaccine did a disappointing job last winter in the U.S., and officials worry that might be a bad sign for the fall.

Flu vaccines had been about 60% effective against the type of flu that caused the most lab-confirmed illnesses last winter, but last season's vaccine was only about half that good, according to study results reported Wednesday.

Against another major type of flu, vaccines have already been only around 30% effective.

The new results may be a sign of shrinking effectiveness against a number of strains, and “that's concerning," said Brendan Flannery, who oversees the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s system for evaluating the vaccine.

The results come as health officials are gearing up for a critically important flu vaccination campaign, with a record 180 million doses being prepared. U.S. health officials fear a second wave of coronavirus infections, and reducing flu illnesses could help reduce patient traffic if COVID-19 causes doctors' offices and hospitals to become overwhelmed.

CDC numbers indicate that last winter's flu season caused somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 million medical visits, 575,000 hospitalizations and likely more than 40,000 deaths.

Vaccines against many infectious diseases aren’t considered successful unless they work at least 90% of the time, but flu is particularly challenging, partly because the virus can quickly change. Overall, flu vaccine effectiveness averages around 40%. Last season's was 39% overall.

Last winter's flu season featured two waves, each dominated by a different virus. Both flu bugs are considered dangerous to children, and it was a very bad flu season for kids.

Health officials reported 185 U.S. flu deaths in children this past flu season, the second highest total in a decade. And officials believe that because of reporting lags, additional cases may still come in.

Most of the children who died were not vaccinated. But how well the vaccine performs in kids remains a large concern.

A Type B flu strain ended up causing most early season illnesses and the bulk of illnesses in children over the entire winter, Flannery said. The vaccine was about 39% effective against that strain in children.

But the vaccine did an awful job against the Type A H1N1 strain that caused the second wave of illnesses. Protection was so low in kids ages 6 months to 17 years that — statistically speaking — it couldn't be counted as working at all.

The vaccine's performance was down in adults, too, and health officials don't know exactly why. It may be due to changes in the virus, Flannery said.

Health officials have changed the components of what's in the flu shot this year, in what they hope will be a better match against whatever flu strains circulate this fall and winter, he said.

The findings are drawn from a study of more than 2,700 people in five states with lab-confirmed flu infections, and presents estimates of vaccine effective in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a patient to a doctor’s office. They were presented during an online meeting of the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices, an expert panel which the CDC looks to before making vaccination recommendations to U.S. doctors.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Health, AP Health - Children's Health, AP Business, AP Business - Careers
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Baseball Hall of Fame to reopen Friday
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is preparing to reopen on Friday, in accordance with New York state’s phased plan
5:18PM ( 9 minutes ago )
MLS teams arriving in Florida, tournament schedule set
Major League Soccer will open its World Cup-style return tournament in Florida on July 8 with a double header
5:14PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Bayer paying up to $10.9B to settle Monsanto weedkiller case
German pharma giant Bayer says it’s paying up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup
5:07PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Flu vaccine was disappointing vs. some strains last season
U.S. health officials say the flu vaccine did a disappointing job last winter, and officials worry it might be a bad sign for the fall
4:44PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Virus cases surging among the young, endangering the elderly
Coronavirus infections are climbing rapidly among young Americans in a number of states where bars, stores and restaurants have reopened
4:34PM ( 53 minutes ago )
The Latest: N.C. orders face coverings in close quarters
North Carolina’s governor has issued an executive order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19
4:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Health
Asia Today: New virus cases drop in South Korea, Beijing
South Korea has reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month, as health authorities scramble to contain a resurgence of the virus around the capital
12:24AM ( 2 days ago )
Asia Today: South Korea's new virus cases dropping
South Korea has reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month, as health authorities scramble to contain a resurgence of the virus centered around the capital
11:07PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: SKorea reports 17 new cases, fewest in month
South Korea has reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month, as health authorities scramble to contain a resurgence of the virus centered around the greater capital area
10:10PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Health - Children's Health
Heading to these 3 states? Quarantine might be in the cards
New York, Connecticut and New Jersey are asking visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates to quarantine for 14 days
4:42PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Stocks slide on Wall Street as new coronavirus cases surge
Stocks slumped on Wall Street after new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit their highest level in two months, renewing worries that the economy may take longer to bounce back than investors had hoped
4:39PM ( 49 minutes ago )
Fireworks are booming before July 4, but why the ruckus?
Fireworks are a symbol of celebration, but they're not being saved for Fourth of July festivities in the U.S. Nightly blasts from Connecticut to California have angered residents and alarmed officials
4:32PM ( 55 minutes ago )
AP Business
Virus pummels commercial real estate, could end long boom
Americans are likely to see more “for rent” signs in the coming months
8:27AM ( 9 hours ago )
Police in misconduct cases stay on force through arbitration
Hundreds of law enforcement officers across the country were fired, sometimes repeatedly, for violating policies but got their jobs back after appealing their cases to an arbitrator who overturned their discipline
7:32AM ( 9 hours ago )
Cops in misconduct cases stay on force through arbitration
Hundreds of law enforcement officers across the country were fired, sometimes repeatedly, for violating policies but got their jobs back after appealing their cases to an arbitrator who overturned their discipline
12:07AM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Business - Careers
The Latest: Baseball Hall of Fame to reopen Friday
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is preparing to reopen on Friday, in accordance with New York state’s phased plan
5:18PM ( 9 minutes ago )
MLS teams arriving in Florida, tournament schedule set
Major League Soccer will open its World Cup-style return tournament in Florida on July 8 with a double header
5:14PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Bayer paying up to $10.9B to settle Monsanto weedkiller case
German pharma giant Bayer says it’s paying up to $10.9 billion to settle litigation over subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup
5:07PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Wisconsin governor activates National Guard after violence
Wisconsin’s governor has activated the National Guard to protect state properties after a night of violence that included the toppling of two statues outside the state Capitol and an attack on a state senator
5:02PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Kentucky Democrats begin wait for Senate election results
Kentucky's Democratic Senate primary to determine who challenges Republican Mitch McConnell has gone into overtime
5:00PM ( 27 minutes ago )