CDC: Flu vaccine only 56 percent effective

Published: .
Updated: .






This season's flu vaccine is not as effective as previously thought, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week.

This year's vaccine is reported to have 56 percent overall effectiveness for children and adults up to age 64 and only 9 percent effectiveness for adults 65 and older.

Indiana has reported 61 flu-related deaths this season, mostly in people over 65. That statistic is consistent with the CDC's estimate that 90 percent of national flu-related deaths occur in people over 65 and older due to human defenses becoming weaker with age.

People in this age group are urged to seek treatment quickly if they develop flu symptoms including cough, fever, sore throat, and body aches. To help protect older community members, State health officials recommend that all individuals older than 6 months of age get vaccinated.

"We know the flu vaccine will not prevent all flu and it's not perfect, but it is still the best defense we have for preventing flu," said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. "The new information about the effectiveness of this season's flu vaccine might seem discouraging, but it's important to note that getting the flu vaccine can significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths, even if it doesn't protect from flu in all cases. This is especially critical for those 65 and older, for whom influenza can be a very serious disease."

"The concept of 'cocooning' is useful with many vaccines, including influenza," said Dr. VanNess. "Cocooning means that everyone in the family would be vaccinated to help prevent the disease, in this case flu, from getting into the home. This helps protect more vulnerable family members like parents, grandparents and immunocompromised individuals from getting sick."

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies by season. In the past, CDC has measured significant benefits of getting the flu vaccine among people 65 and older in terms of preventing infection.


Flu season generally runs from October through May.

Flu vaccine locator