The CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices continued to recommend that all people aged 6 months and older be vaccinated annually against influenza during its recent meeting and also amended language and voted 11-0, with three abstentions, for patients with egg allergies to receive the live-attenuated influenza vaccine.
In addition, the CDC reported preliminary data indicate that this season’s influenza vaccine has been 59% effective through Feb. 12.
“This means that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by nearly 60%,” Joseph Bresee, MD, chief of the CDC’s Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, said in a press release. “It’s good news and underscores the importance and the benefit of both annual and ongoing vaccination efforts this season.”
According to the release, the 59% effectiveness is comparable to estimates from past seasons when circulating influenza viruses have been similar to vaccine viruses.
Although data is incomplete and several weeks remain in the influenza season, estimates from the U.S. Flu VE Network indicated that the vaccine was 51% effective against the H1N1 viruses responsible for most influenza illnesses this season, 76% effective against all influenza B viruses, and 79% effective against the B/Yamagata lineage of B viruses.
This season, the number of influenza-positive lab tests became elevated on Jan. 10 and remained elevated for 5 consecutive weeks. For the past 13 seasons, influenza seasons have lasted an average of 13 weeks, ranging from a low of 1 week to a high of 20 weeks.
“Flu activity this season started a bit later and has been lower so far than we’ve seen during the previous 3 seasons, but activity is still on the upswing and expected to continue for several weeks,” Bresee said. “This season, CDC has received reports of hospitalizations and deaths in young, otherwise healthy people who were infected with influenza A H1N1, but not vaccinated.”