FDA advisory committee to analyze changing flu vaccine for next year

01 March, 2018, 13:34 | Author: Christina Harvey
  • Sharda Modi

After weeks of influenza unlike anything the country had seen in nearly a decade, the Centers for Disease Control said last week that flu cases may have finally peaked nationally.

During flu season, the flu vaccine can be as high as 70% effective.

US servicemembers in Europe have been less likely than their counterparts elsewhere to get the flu, but it's still important to get vaccinated, Army health officials said.

"Flu kills more people than any other infectious disease", he said.

Flu season is something everyone needs to take seriously, and taking precautions benefits communities across the state.

In Pennsylvania, there have been 135 flu deaths since October, according to the state Health Department's weekly flu report. Type H3N2 is now the most common strain in Asia and in the United States.

"With the technology we have, we should be able to build a better flu shot", said Dr. Debra Powell, medical director for infection prevention for Tower Health.

The flu season has had severe cases caused predominantly by type A flu strains, like H3N2.




In a statement, he said an analysis of the data is still underway, but it may have some clues on effectiveness of cell-based and egg-based vaccines and may shed light on effectiveness of high-dose and adjuvanted version of the vaccines in seniors, as compared to standard flu vaccine. By comparison it is 42 percent effective against influenza Type B viruses in Europe.

So why did this season's vaccines not deliver higher protection against H3N2?

The percentage of visits for influenza-like illnesses dropped from 13 percent to 11 percent of overall visits, according to reporting hospitals and clinics in the most recent DSHS report.

The second shot may be necessary if parents have a child under eight-years-old who got vaccinated for the first time this season. One theory is that people might require a higher amount of H3N2 antigen to elicit a proper immune response to that particular strain of influenza.

With about two months left in the flu season, which typically runs from November through the end of April, local officials say vaccination is still a good idea - even amid talk of this season's vaccine being less effective than in a typical year. "We do monitor throughout the state, and we're finding that it still is occurring in all parts of the state".

As older people who have been vaccinated against the flu are still at risk of contracting the flu or developing serious complications, they should get a pneumococcal vaccine for better protection, he added.

The FDA remains committed to determining the root cause for the shortcomings observed in the effectiveness of this season's flu vaccine against H3N2, notifying the public of our work as we gain new insights, and applying what we learn to future vaccine development.

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