The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a warning that more deaths and hospitalizations could result from the ineffectiveness of current flu vaccines to destroy new mutations of the flu virus this year, and this is largely because flu virus have mutated to render the current vaccines ineffective.
Since no new flu vaccines have been developed and the time to reengineer new vaccines is not here to deal with the present problem of flu spread and infections, the CDC warns doctors to continue administering the current flu vaccines with the hopes that it might slow down the virus or terminate new strains that result from it.
According to Dr. Tom Frieden, “we could have a season that is more severe than most with more hospitalizations and more deaths,” and this is entirely because 52% of the 85 flu virus samples that were collected and analyzed between October 1 and November 22 were largely different from the strains that could be handled by this year’s vaccine – the flu strains have drifted or mutated outside the jurisdiction of current vaccines.
With the commonest identified and isolated as the influenza A (H3N2) – having caused the deaths of infants, the aged, and asthmatic patients in the past, this and three other circulating strains have been included in this year’s vaccine, but it appears the virus mutates at a faster pace than what medical researchers can handle. And bearing in mind that it takes about four months to produce a typical vaccine under modern production technology, there is virtually no time to create another version of the vaccine to arrest these mutated strains.
“The flu is bad, and you want to do anything you can to prevent getting it and to prevent giving it to other people. The vaccine isn’t perfect, but it’s the best protection we have for prevention,” said Dr. Lisa Thebner, a pediatrician in New York City – and to this end, the CDC advises that doctors still give the vaccines with the hope that it will lessen the severity of illnesses caused by the virus.
12,337 patients were hospitalized and 149 children died as a result of flu-related infections between 2012-2013, and to this end, the CDC warns that antiviral medications like Tamiflu and Relenza should be administered the moment anyone starts showing flu symptoms like cough, sore throat, fever, and body aches among others.