Thursday, December 30, 2021

Flu vaccine may be less effective due to new strain

One of the strains of influenza included in this year's vaccine may have undergone a chance affecting how effective the flu vaccine is against it, Israel Hayom reported.

This week, there was a 65% rise in the number of people diagnosed with influenza who are hospitalized. In the past two weeks, the number of people who arrived at local clinics suffering symptoms of flu has doubled.

This week, 730 people were admitted to hospitals with influenza, and there is concern that due to a drop in the vaccine's efficacy, these numbers will rise even more. According to the Israel Center for Disease Control (ICDC), a total of 1,849 influenza patients have been hospitalized this season, among them 605 children and 124 new and expectant mothers.

Most of the patients were infected with H3N2, or this year's "type A" strain, which is included in this year's flu vaccine. However, the strain has undergone a change, and recently-published research showed that under laboratory conditions, this year's vaccine is now less effective against it.

Dr. Ira Zaretsky, an expert in immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told Israel Hayom, "The increase in infections which we are seeing is not necessarily connected to the vaccine. Nearly every year at this time there is a rise in the number of hospitalizations. Despite the fact that there has been a drop in the vaccine's efficacy, we need to do everything in order to get vaccinated and protect ourselves."

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