There is bad news for parents who did what they thought was best and got a flu shot for their children this year. The most common strain that is known for being toughest on children is “not a very good match,” according to the nation’s top infectious disease doctor.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “It’s not a very good match for B/Victoria. It’s not an awful match, but it’s not a very good match.”
This matters because children are the most susceptible to influenza B/Victoria. There is, however, a silver lining.
Flu Shot for Influenza B Is a Bad Match This Year
Even though the vaccination for influenza B/Victoria is considered a bad match this year, the good news is that having the flu shot can still potentially save your child’s life. The flu shot is considered to be 58% effective for this particular strain, which means your child will have a 58% chance of being protected if they are exposed.
That also means there is a 42% chance that they won’t be protected, but it can still help them not be as sick as they could have been without a shot. Even a mismatched flu shot like this one can help prevent them from developing life-threatening complications.
Not only that, but the flu shot this year is considered a “really good match” for the other major strain of the flu that’s going around: H1N1.
Mismatching of Flu Strains Isn’t Uncommon
Every springtime around April, scientists try to predict which flu strains will start circulating when the flu season starts, typically in October. Unfortunately, they don’t always get it right since nature can be so unpredictable.
Dr. Arnold Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said, “Every year, there’s always some degree of mismatch.”
For example, the vaccine for the H3N2 flu strain this year is only 34% effective and is considered a poor match. Thankfully, that particular strain isn’t as common and there have been very few cases of H3N2 this season. Dr. Anthony Fauci is currently spearheading an effort towards developing a universal flu vaccine that could potentially cover every strain of the flu that exists.
The best part? If the universal flu vaccine is developed, you wouldn’t need to get the shot every year!