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Home / Health / Flu Season: Up to 15,900 People Have Died; Vaccine Protecting About Half Who Get It

Flu Season: Up to 15,900 People Have Died; Vaccine Protecting About Half Who Get It



A nurse prepares a flu shot from a vial of vaccine to the Salvation Army in Atlanta on Wednesday, February 7, 2019. Preliminary data suggest that this winter vaccine is overall effective at 47% in preventing the disease flu serious enough to send a patient to the doctor's office – an improvement over the previous year

(AP Photo / David Goldman)

  • Data from the CDC show that this season's flu shot it is effective at 47%.
  • The predominant strain of the influenza virus this year is H1N1,
  • An official from the CDC states that the number of deaths is "a little bit surprising".

The current flu season has been milder than last year, with the vaccine protecting around half the people who have been inoculated and a less severe strain of the virus that causes most diseases that occur.

However, there were more deaths than usual from this milder strain, and there is evidence of a more severe strain of the influenza virus causing an increasing percentage of diseases.

(OTHER: What you need to know about this year's flu shot )

The current flu season began at the beginning of October and lasts until May. As of February 2, between 13.2 million and 15.2 million people nationwide contracted the influence Centers for Disease and Control reported. There have been 9,600 to 15,900 deaths so far.

The CDC said that the flu usually kills between 12,000 and 56,000 people in the United States in a year.

"The number of deaths we are seeing is a little surprising " Epidemiologist CDC Brendan Flannery told the Wall Street Journal. "It's a reminder that the influence can be serious."

(OTHER: The FDA approves the new treatment of influenza )

The vaccine of this year, formulated for the H1N1 strain of the Influence, up to 47% has so far been effective, the CDC also said. Last year's vaccine was 36% effective at the same point in the season. Overall, the 2017-2018 vaccine was 40% effective for the entire season.

Approximately 90% of the cases tested by the CDC this season are the mildest strain of H1N1 influenza reports NBC News. Ten percent is the prevailing H3N2 strain last season.

This season, up to 186,000 people with influenza have been hospitalized and most of them have H1N1 influenza.

Health officials are seeing evidence that the H3N2 virus is causing a growing percentage of influenza cases.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, told the AP that it's unusual and it's not clear why it's happening.


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