NEW ORLEANS -- Louisiana and Mississippi are still experiencing a high number of people with the flu.
And last year, Louisiana was among the states with the lowest number of people getting the flu vaccine.
So are you not getting the vaccine because you've heard it's not very effective this year?
We decided to verify that claim.
News reports that the flu vaccine is only 10 percent effective, may have you thinking why even bother getting the shot. But because the flu can be deadly to all ages, and the vaccine can be life-saving, we decided to verify its effectiveness. So we turned to LSU Health's infectious disease expert Dr. Fred Lopez.
"They've noticed that the vaccine efficacy in Australia is quite low," Lopez said. "On any given year it's usually 40 to 60 percent effective in the United States. This year in Australia, it looks like it's about 10 percent."
But those are just preliminary numbers in Australia. So does that mean it will be the same for the flu vaccine in the U.S.?
"We don't know what's going to happen here," he said. "I mean, it's possible we may see something very similar. We know in given years when H3N2 strains predominate, that we're going to have probably a more severe season."
And that is the strain we are seeing in the U.S. now, meaning we could have a more severe flu season. But remember, the vaccine gives you protection against three or four flu strains, making it more effective.
"Even if it's not a perfect match with what's circulating in a community in a given year, it will still provide you with some protection against the complications and severity of the illness that you might develop," Lopez explained.
So to verify, it is still unknown how effective the vaccine will be in the U.S., but it will help. Doctors still urge everyone older than six months to get the vaccine, because it takes two weeks to build up immunity.
"Right now we still need to encourage everyone who has not received a flu vaccine to get it, and to get it as soon as possible because we are seeing high activity levels of flu like illnesses in Louisiana," Lopez urged.
According to the CDC, last year in 2016, only 41.6 percent of people in Louisiana got a flu vaccine.
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