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News Tip: Infectious Disease Expert Available to Discuss Effectiveness of Flu Shots
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Duke University doctor explains why this year's flu shot is a good match, although some of those who have been vaccinated may still get sick.
Dr. Cameron Wolfe
Clinical associate, Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke University School of Medicine
Wolfe is an infectious disease physician and researcher with expertise in influenza.
"This year's flu vaccine is an excellent match. For example, 99.4 percent of circulating influenza A strains across the country match what was placed in the vaccine.
"The match isn't the only thing that makes a difference, though. The strength of a vaccine to spark an appropriately strong and sustained response to the right virus, and therefore prevent infection, is also important. Preliminary data from the CDC suggests a 62 percent reduction in risk if you are vaccinated.
"Different people have different capacity to respond to the challenge given by a flu shot. That's why the elderly or the chronically sick often don't respond as effectively as younger, healthier individuals. So there will be some people who still get sick despite getting the vaccine. That said, there will be many more people who do not get sick as a direct result of taking the shot.
"Additionally, the shot takes time to stimulate your immune system. If someone gets the shot today and runs into a person with the flu tomorrow, they may not have had the chance to develop full protection. So the earlier you can get the shot, the better. But given we expect the flu to still be around for at least another month, there's still a benefit in getting vaccinated if you haven't already."
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