A sampling of flu cases so far this season suggests the current flu vaccine may not be a good match for the most common seasonal flu strain currently circulating in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.
The U.S. health agency issued an advisory to doctors noting that flu virus samples the agency took from Oct. 1 through Nov. 22, showed that just under half were a good match for the current influenza A (H3N2) component contained in flu shots for the 2014-2015 season, suggesting the virus has drifted.
According to the CDC, flu activity has been low but is increasing and influenza A (H3N2) viruses appear to be the predominant strain, with cases having been detected in almost all U.S. states.
In past seasons when the influenza A (H3N2) strain had mutated from the vaccine strain, flu shots were less effective, the CDC said in the advisory.
Flu seasons dominated by influenza A (H3N2) strains tend to have higher overall hospitalization rates and more flu-related deaths, especially among older people and very young children compared with flu seasons dominated by the influenza A (H1N1) virus or influenza B viruses.