To Get Flu Shot or Not? Big Question After Last’s Year Vaccine Had Only 36% Effectiveness
ITASCA, IL – October 8, 2018
In September, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released its flu vaccine recommendations for the 2018-19 season saying all children under six months old should be vaccinated before the end of October.
It comes after a particularly fatal flu season for children last year that saw 179 children die and thousands hospitalized with the virus across the U.S. The CDC said 80% of the children who died were not vaccinated. But this year, the dismal success rate of last year’s vaccine could serve as a major deciding factor for the question of whether to get this year’s flu shot.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest report, when looking at the flu vaccine given to patients between November 2017 and February 2018, the vaccine was only effective about 36% of the time. It’s better than it was in Canada and Australia, where the vaccine’s effectiveness in combating H3N2 was only around 10%, but it’s still too low. During a good year, the effectiveness of the shot can range from 50 to 70%.
Moreover, when the strain known as the H3N — last year’s virus—spreads, it falls to as low as 25%.
While the low rates of vaccine effectiveness have led to criticism of the CDC, Time noted that the agency has attempted to defend the drug by insisting that it is still higher than past years where the rate of effectiveness was as low as 20%:
36 percent effectiveness may not seem very impressive, but the CDC emphasizes in the report that even small increases in immunity can have a large impact on public health. CDC data has shown that even in 2014-2015, a year when vaccine effectiveness didn’t even hit 20%, immunizations prevented as many as 144,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 4,000 deaths. Plus, people who get the shot, but who still end up getting sick, tend to have less severe illnesses than unvaccinated people.
The report noted that influenza-like illnesses (ILI) peaked at 7.5%, which was the highest percentage since 2009 when ILI peaked at 7.7%. However, even with the infamous Swine Flu wreaking havoc in 2009, it was estimated that around 12,000 people died that year.
With the 2017-2018 flu season standing as one of the worst in years, parents also raised concerns about the medication that was prescribed to their children when they did get the flu.
As the Free Thought Project reported in February, while Oseltamivir, the antiviral medication marketed as Tamiflu, is typically prescribed to patients with early symptoms of the flu, some of the drug’s users “have had rare side effects of sudden confusion, delirium, hallucinations, unusual behavior, or self-injury. Adding to the ominous nature of these side-effects is the fact that these symptoms have occurred most often in children.”
Last month, 16-year-old Charlie Harp was given Tamiflu, the entirely normal boy then took his own life hours later. ‘Had I known this was an issue, I would’ve never given it to him,’ remarked Jackie Ray, Harp’s aunt and guardian.
The parents of a six-year-old little girl gave their daughter Tamiflu and she began hallucinating, ran away, and then tried to kill herself by jumping out of a window. ‘She was about to jump out the window when my wife came up and grabbed her,’ recalled the girl’s father, who wanted to stay anonymous.
As the 2018-2019 flu season begins, the best thing both parents and individuals can do is to research the side effects and the ingredients included in the vaccines or medications they are taking so that they can be fully educated on what they can and should expect, and what treatment they should seek in the worst case scenario.