Despite CDC Report, Get a Flu Shot

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Madison, Wisconsin - The flu vaccine in north-central states like Wisconsin is a better match than people perceive, according to a UW Health flu surveillance expert who has worked with the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene for more than 20 years on flu tracking and surveillance.


Dr. Jon Temte said people may have gotten the mistaken impression that the flu vaccine is useless because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said it is not a good match. Last year the vaccine was a 98 percent match.  According to the CDC, this year the direct match is 51 percent to four flu strains, two A strains and two B strains.


Temte’s calculations, accounting for a partial benefit still offered by the vaccine, showed a 70-plus percent vaccine-to-virus match in the north-central portion of the U.S. Temte said that’s an argument for Wisconsin residents to get the flu vaccine.


“Even though the CDC said there is a mismatch because some of the strains have mutated or drifted, there is partial vaccine match with the viruses that can provide some protection,” said Dr. Jon Temte of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. So far this season, 86 percent of circulating flus are A viruses while 14 percent are B viruses. Of the A viruses, 99 percent are the H3 strain. 


"H3 viruses in general tend to be nastier than the other strains in terms of hospitalizations of older people and those with underlying medical conditions,” said Temte.  “If you look at the whole array of viruses, the vaccine should provide either full or partial protection against the flu.”


Temte said that at the very least, the vaccine could lessen the severity of the flu.


He advises that if you come down with fever, along with a cough or a sore throat, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. This is especially important for pregnant women, young children and people with underlying medical conditions.


“If we can catch the flu early on, there are treatments that can lessen the effects of the illness.”

Date Published: 12/15/2014

News tag(s):  flujonathan l tempte

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