By Jack Craver
While the panic continues over Zika
, there is one bright spot for diseases (or lack thereof) this year. The Centers for Disease Control reports that the flu season has been relatively mild this year, and vaccines appear to be working better than usual.
The agency estimated that the flu vaccine was 59 percent effective this year.
"This means that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by nearly 60 percent,” said Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of CDC’s Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in a news release. "It’s good news and underscores the importance and the benefit of both annual and ongoing vaccination efforts this season."
Still, the vaccine’s effectiveness against different strains of the flu varied. It was most effective at combating “B/Yamagata lineage of B viruses,” reducing occurrences of the disease by an estimated 79 percent. It was only 51 percent effective in preventing the H1N1 virus, however, which is responsible for the majority of flu cases.
The agency nevertheless cautions that we likely have not seen the worst of the flu season
yet. Flu incidence will likely reach its year high in a few weeks; doctor visits for the illness increased from 2.5 percent of all visits last week to 3.4 percent this week.
The length and severity of flu season varies significantly from year to year. Although the CDC notes that the average season lasts 13 weeks, there are years when it has been limited to one week and others where it has gone on for as long as 20 weeks.
Originally posted on BenefitsPro.com