You better stock up on chicken soup this year. You might need it if you find yourself battling the flu.
According to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, this year’s flu vaccine may only be about 10% effective against influenza A (H3N2).
Health experts look to Australia to measure the effectiveness of the vaccine and the severity of the flu headed our way.
So far, the country has seen record-high numbers of influenza cases and higher-than-average numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, The New England Journal of Medicine reported.
According to the World Health Organization, the United States typically sees 140,000 to 710,000 influenza-related hospitalizations and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths each year. The very young, very old, and people with existing medical conditions are most at risk.
According to Quartz, the annual flu vaccine development process begins several months before each flu season. Researchers meet at the World Health Organization to identify the strains of the influenza virus they think will infect people in the northern hemisphere. Their findings are based on what made people sick in the southern hemisphere’s most recent flu season. This approach usually provides effective coverage — 40% to 60% — from the flu.
This year, however, the virus appears to have mutated rendering the vaccine only about 10% effective.
Experts say a vaccine that is less effective can still reduce the severity of the flu.
It is estimated that flu vaccines helped avert 40,000 deaths between 2005 and 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.