Insights From Wapiti

Advice, news and thought leadership from our experts.

Flu Vaccine Effectiveness: Separating Information from Misinformation

Flu vaccine effectiveness is a continuing debate among the general public. However, experts have no doubts. The CDC has studied the efficacy of flu vaccines for years. Their most recent findings show that flu vaccines offer 40-60% protection against flu illness during peak flu season, with better protection from influenza B and A(H1N1) viruses. Before flu season strikes, Wapiti reminds our providers to get the vaccine each year and send the documentation to our credentialing team. It is then shared with the facilities where they practice.

So, why does resistance to the flu vaccine persist? While misinformation plays a part, there are factors that can reduce the vaccine’s effectiveness. These shouldn’t be misconstrued as arguments against getting vaccinated. Instead, they are valuable to remember when encountering flu vaccine myths.

Why Did I Get the Flu After Being Vaccinated?

Vaccination helps protect a person from getting sick with the flu, but it depends on two factors. Firstly, the age and health of the person being vaccinated. Secondly, how well the vaccine matches the flu viruses in the community. If the vaccine and the virus are not well-matched, the vaccination will not provide much protection. However, vaccines may still offer protection against other circulating flu viruses. Even when the match isn’t ideal, the flu shot can help protect you from severe illness and complications.

Is Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Compromised If I Get the Shot Each Year?

Scientists continue to study the impact of repeat flu vaccinations on future vaccine effectiveness. Recent studies show that flu vaccine effectiveness may be lower for those vaccinated in the present and prior seasons. Further analysis of the study shows that the benefits of the current season’s flu vaccine are consistent across those who were only vaccinated in the current flu season and those vaccinated both in the current and prior seasons. Also, a 2021 study conducted over six seasons (2012-2013 to 2017-2018) revealed that an annual flu vaccine could reduce illnesses requiring medical attention.

Should People Over 65 Receive the Flu Vaccine?

Research has found that standard-dose flu vaccines protected adults 65 and older against flu illness resulting in a doctor’s visit or hospitalization. However, the vaccine effectiveness was inconsistent, depending on the flu season. The CDC is now preferentially recommending higher dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines for people over 65.

For more information about the multiple networks the CDC uses to study flu vaccine effectiveness, visit the CDC’s Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Networks.



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