So far the 2008 flu vaccine looks promising.
Last year, the flu vaccine was a big miss so one needs to question any possible risks of thimerosal vs. the benefit of the vaccine (note: thimerosal-free vaccines available this year – I made this one-page pdf of just the table from the FDA page to bring with you to the clinic for reference; the vaccines with thimerosal are in strike-through type).
This year’s vaccine consists of the following strains:
an A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus
an A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus
a B/Florida/4/2006-like virus.
Collected samples to date (strain completely identified) break down as:
- H1, all A/Brisbane/59/2007-like (157)
- H3, all A/Brisbane/10/2007-like (18)
- B, 4:9 ratio of B/Florida/04/2006 to B/Victoria (13)
It’s possible that of the untyped samples there are other strains, but none have been detected so far. So, assuming the above distribution holds over the sample and over time, getting the flu shot ought to be useful against 95% of the flu currently in the wild. The 5% chance of getting a B/Victoria is likely dependent on the state you’re in- 8/9 Victorias were detected in one state, but the FDA doesn’t say which state. From the data is looks like it’s probably in the South East or West South Central areas, so those of us in the North should likely see a higher than 95% efficacy.