Why is this flu season so bad?

GLENN ELLIS | 3/19/2018, 10:13 a.m.
The flu is everywhere in the United States right now ... and it won’t be over any time soon.
Stock photo

One other reason the flu vaccine tends to underperform in H3N2 years has to do with ... eggs. To produce the vaccines, manufacturers need to grow a lot of flu virus – and they discovered long ago that flu virus grows extremely effectively in eggs. So viruses are injected into fertilized hen’s eggs, incubated for several days while they replicate, then harvested from the eggs, killed (or inactivated), and purified to go into vaccines. In other words, while growing the flu virus for vaccines, H3N2 mutates to adapt to the eggs, which seems to result in a vaccine mismatch.

Even 10 percent effective is better than nothing, and a lot of it has to do with herd immunity – the more people are protected from it, the more other people will also be protected. Experts have said that if you do get the flu, it will likely be less severe if you have gotten a flu shot.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

No. Getting the vaccine now will take you through the flu season’s second peak in early spring. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become effective. Flu season typically ends in April or early May.

We probably have a few more weeks of flu season left, but exactly how many; no one knows for sure.

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.

Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!


This column is for informational purposes only. If you have a medical condition or concern, please seek professional care from your doctor or other health professional. Glenn Ellis is a Health Advocacy Communications Specialist and is available through http://www.glennellis.com.