Although we are currently in the midst of a moderate to strong influenza year, it’s not too late to be protected against the virus, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
“We are seeing an intense amount of influenza type A, H3N2, which is normally associated with higher mortality in older adults and children,” said Dr. Pedro Piedra, professor of molecular virology and microbiology and pediatrics at Baylor.
Piedra notes that of the flu strains that are currently circulating, about half are well matched to the vaccine and about half are not.
“At this point, we do not know how well the vaccine will work against strains that are not well matched, and even with less than optimal protection, vaccination is still the best way to protect against the serious consequences of flu,” he said.
Importantly, the flu vaccine is strongly recommended for all persons 6 months of age and older, and the live attenuated vaccine, which is in the nasal spray form, normally includes good protection against drifted strains of the virus, meaning those that are not covered in the vaccine. The nasal spray is recommended for healthy individuals between the ages of 2 and 49 and is the preferred influenza vaccine for healthy children between age 2 and 8. For children and adults with comorbid conditions, such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, the inactivated vaccine, or the flu shot, is recommended.