Loyola University Health System: Flu vaccine sound despite mutation

Influenza virus particles
Influenza virus particles | Courtesy of the CDC

The Loyola University Health System said on Wednesday that the current influenza vaccine set is valid despite an emerging strain reaching epidemic levels.

In the report, researchers said two out of the three strains covered in the most common trivalent form of the influenza vaccine match what is currently able to infect people during this flu season. The third component does not match the third strain at 100 percent, but researchers have said the vaccine is still effective. This mismatch is due to a recent mutation of the influenza H3N2 strain.

"The current flu shot is not a loser and should not be benched as ineffective," Dr. Jorge Parada, hospital epidemiologist and medical director of the Infection Prevention and Control program at Loyola University Health System, said. "While there was a mismatch due to a mutation in the H3N2 strain, there are actually two H3N2 strains in circulation, complicating the interpretation of the accuracy of the vaccine."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the H3N2 strain has reached high levels of activity in 43 states and that it is reaching epidemic levels. Parada said a third of the viruses are prevented by the vaccine, as it is a perfect match.

"The B strain regularly appears in January and February, and the current flu vaccine will help build immunity," Parada said.

Based on the report from Loyola, people are urged to get vaccinations against influenza despite this mutation. It will still help ward off the disease, Parada said.

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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