Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Flu Vaccine Works

Duke University Medical Center released a study a couple of weeks ago that showed 91% of patients who are in the intensive care unit (ICU) with influenza this season did not have a seasonal flu vaccine. Another 67% of those admitted to the hospital with less severe cases of the flu also weren't vaccinated. The bottom line is, the flu vaccine works.

The study examined only 55 patients who were admitted to the Duke Medical Center between November of 2013 and January of 2014. But, the cases were well documented. 47% of patients were Caucasian, 42% were African-American and 6% were Hispanic. 49% of patients were in the 18-49 age range, with the median age at 28.5. 33% of the patients were ages 50 to 64.

Duke's numbers are consistent with the national trend this year, that the flu is affecting young or middle aged adults more than infants, toddlers and seniors, who are always at high risk. Patients who were vaccinated but still had the flu had disorders that rendered them immunocompromised, therefore causing the vaccine ineffective.

Cameron R. Wolfe, M.D. was co-author of the study and stated: "Even if you get influenza, the vaccine reduces the likelihood of truly serious disease. These people on the intensive care unit are very sick. If you end up there, you're going to be battling a month or more of hospitalization." Five of the 22 ICU patients had died by the time the study was published.

It's not too late to get a flu vaccine. The FluView shows the states that are still having high flu activity levels. The vaccine generally takes 10-14 days to become effective. Vaccine Watch encourages people with questions and concerns to consult their physician about the flu vaccine options available.

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