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Current Flu Season Worst in 4 Years
Date:4/17/2008

Vaccine wasn't a good match for circulating viruses, CDC says

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- The current U.S. flu season has been the worst in four years, due, in part, to a vaccine that was not a good match for certain circulating strains of flu virus, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

For strains of influenza A (H3N2) -- the most prevalent virus during the 2007-08 season, the vaccine was 58 percent effective. But it was 100 percent ineffective against influenza B infections, leaving an overall vaccine success rate of about 44 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Most of the circulating influenza viruses this season have been less than optimally matched to the viruses in the vaccine," Dr. Dan Jernigan, deputy director of CDC's Influenza Division, said during a teleconference. "However, the vaccine did provide substantial protection against the predominant influenza virus circulating this season -- the H3N2 influenza A virus. Those people vaccinated were 58 percent less likely to have H3N2 infection than those not vaccinated."

The CDC researchers realized that two of the three circulating strains of flu this season did not match the strains contained in the vaccine, based on results of a study done in Marshfield, Wisc.

The CDC began working with the Marshfield Clinic in central Wisconsin to gauge the effectiveness of influenza vaccines during the flu season. Almost all people in Marshfield receive their health care from the clinic, according to a report in the April 18 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

This flu season, Type A H3N2 Brisbane strain has caused most of the illnesses but was not in the vaccine. The influenza A Florida strain, also not in the vaccine, has also caused sickness.

Jernigan noted that while this season's flu vaccine wasn't perfect, this year's results support getting vaccinated, ev
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