FDA discusses next year's flu vaccine - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

FDA discusses next year's flu vaccine

(NBC News Channel) - At least 44 states across the country are now reporting widespread flu activity, partly because this year's vaccine only protects against some of the strains out there.

That’s why experts gathered in Washington Thursday to get to work on next year's vaccine.
The flu bug is spreading, and it’s made worse by the fact this year's vaccine protects from less than half the strains out there.

"Influenza virus wiggles around- it changes- and so we cannot always anticipate that perfectly," Dr. William Schnaffer with Vanderbilt University Medical Center said.

This year, the shot missed the mark, so doctors across the country are advising patients to take matters into their own hands
"The most important thing is to wash hands, wash hands, wash hands," Dr. Mike Richardson with Charlotte Medical Center said.

All of this as experts met in Washington to come up with a better prescription for next year’s vaccine.

For the first time in decades, they unanimously decided on a complete overhaul, adding protection from three strains now circling the globe.

But once again, they have to decide months in advance of flu season so they have enough time to make the hundred million doses needed.

It's an imperfect system, but according to doctors, its the only one we have.

"Don't expect perfection, but go out and get vaccinated so you have the maximum protection.” said Schnaffer.

It is, for now, the best advice and best defense doctors can offer.
The nation does have a pretty good track record with vaccines.   16 of the last 19 flu seasons had well-matched vaccines.

Still, in the average year, the flu infects up to 20 percent of the population, and kills 36,000 people.

If you think you might have the flu, experts say, call your doctor.

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