This year’s flu shot is not a good match for the strain of influenza B that tends to be more severe in children, according to preliminary data from the 2019-2020 flu season in the United States.
Flu season is still in full swing, with all but 8 states and D.C. reporting very high flu activity levels as of February 8, 2020.
Health officials are concerned because this year’s flu shot was not closely matched to a strain of influenza B viruses, which doctors say hits children the hardest.
Out of 92 children who died of the flu this season, 62 of them were infected with the influenza B/Victoria strain, according to data on pediatric flu deaths from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But although this year’s flu shot is not a good match for influenza B, health officials say it is still important to still get the flu shot.
This is because people who get vaccinated and still get sick are less likely to have severe symptoms, and tend to have a shorter illness than people who don’t get the flu shot.
Since 2009, flu shot effectiveness has varied widely. Last year was one of the worst years for the flu shot, when the 2018-2019 flu shot had only a 29% reduction in the risk of being infected with the flu.
It is still too early to say how effective this year’s flu shot has been. Even in the best case scenario, the CDC estimates that flu shots reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor by 40-60%.