If scientists recognize that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective, do not refuse to get vaccinated. Vaccination campaigns are needed, especially for patients at risk of being hospitalized, such as seniors or people with chronic health conditions.
If the influenza vaccine does not display a 100% efficacy rate, it is because its composition is reviewed each year to include strains of virus that should, in principle, circulate during the breeding season. flu, says Jean Longtin, medical director of the Quebec Public Health Laboratory.
Its effectiveness will vary from one year to another and will depend on the agreement between the virus that will circulate and that which has been put in the vaccine. Since 2009, studies have shown that the overall effectiveness of the vaccine varies between 40% and 60% when the viruses that circulate are well matched to the vaccine.
It takes time to produce a vaccine. The composition must be decided by the World Health Organization in February each year, in light of the viruses that circulate. […] The production of the vaccine begins then to administer it in November.
For all these reasons, vaccine effectiveness will be known only after Christmas, notes Dr. Jean Longtin. “So you have to be careful with those who are already predicting that the vaccine will be good or bad this year,” he says.
Answers to those who doubt
To the patients who say they contract influenza even when they are vaccinated, Dr. Jean Longtin answers this: the vaccine especially prevents the complications related to the flu. A person can have the flu, but it will be less severe than if it had not been vaccinated. Jean Longtin also wishes to point out that:
- The vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization of people with diabetes by 80% and halves the hospitalization of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
- The vaccine is useful for pregnant women because the mother will pass on her antibodies to the baby. Studies show that the baby will be half as likely to get influenza if her mother was vaccinated during pregnancy;
- Studies have shown that vaccination of children 6 months and older prevents flu-related deaths.
To patients who say that receiving the vaccine every year is not good, Dr. Jean Longtin responds: it is true that studies have raised this question, but there are more studies that say the opposite, and the sum of these studies tipped the scales in favor of annual vaccination.
Here is the list of people at risk who should be vaccinated:
- Children from 6 to 23 months;
- People with certain chronic diseases;
- Pregnant women in good health during the second and third trimesters of their pregnancy;
- People 60 years and over;
- Health and child care workers
- Relatives of people at risk, including the entourage of children under 6 months.
Marie Bram started working for Spruce Tribune in 2017. Marie grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Spruce Tribune, Marie briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News. She covers politics and the economy.