Flu Vaccine Not as Effective as Doctors Predicted

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

HARRISONBURG -- Mel Anderson is a pharmacist who's given flu shots to people all winter. He said he was shocked that the vaccine isn't as effective as doctors predicted.

"This was not the norm. This was much below average, most of the time the vaccine works pretty well," said Anderson.

Most of the time it does, but this time, he said it didn't work too well for the elderly.

"As we age, our immune system doesn't respond as well. It's not as strong. It doesn't do as well, therefore when you vaccinate somebody, they may not get the immune response necessary to fight off the infection."

Leaders of the Centers for Disease Control reported that flu shot has only been 9 percent effective for people over the age of 65, but Anderson said that's just for one strain of the virus.

He said the CDC makes the vaccine every year to protect against what doctors think the worst strains will be, but it's only a prediction.

"It is kind of a guess. If the CDC is wrong, and they don't pick the right strains of the virus to vaccinate against, then the vaccine is worthless. But they're pretty good at predicting it, and it's the best we have right now. It's always a work in progress."

It's a work in progress Anderson said is still the best way to fight the flu. He said everyone should still get the flu shot because some protection is better than none. He said doctors are also working on a universal shot that will protect against all strains of the virus.


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