Experts say a vaccine that is less effective can still reduce the severity of the flu. Complications of the flu include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
An infectious disease specialist says this year's vaccine is not getting the job done. "Flu is more likely to lead to hospitalization or death for people in the high risk groups, and their first line of defense is vaccination".
Dr Anthony Fauci told WTOP: "What happened is, in the development of the vaccine, as we grow it in eggs, the virus itself mutated a bit, so that there was nearly an accidental mismatch purely on the basis of the virus trying to adapt itself to growing in eggs, which is the way you make the vaccine".
"We typically tend to see the rates really go up closer to the end of December, into January", said Dr.
The high prevalence of influenza A viruses in recent years is a particular problem for the current generation of vaccines, Fauci and his colleagues wrote.
Flu is most risky for people over age 65, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions such as asthma or heart disease. They could be several flu seasons off, but Fauci said he has "made this a high priority" in a budget that the Trump administration has targeted for 21 percent budget cut.
"They did observe in Australia that the vaccine didn't work very well", Dr. Neil Rau said. Since then, a handful of people have come to Public Health with flu-like symptoms and were referred to their doctors for diagnosis and treatment. Even a vaccine with limited effectiveness will protect some people from getting the flu. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October.
The vaccine now being administered to Americans uses the same formulation.
"The sooner you get a shot, the better". The two people who died were older than 65, according to a release from the health department.