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Flu vaccine doesn't exactly match the flu that's going around

Yesterday the HSE warned that flu rates are on the rise.

Image: flu image via Shutterstock

THE HSE HAS admitted that this year’s flu vaccine is actually only 25% effective against the strain that is circulating in Ireland at the moment.

Yesterday, the HSE warned flu rates in the country are on the rise. Reported cases of influenza-like illnesses in Ireland rose from 15.5 per 100,000 to 29 per 100,000 population and are now above threshold levels. This means that flu is actively circulating in the community, the Health and Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said yesterday.

Though the centre urged people to get vaccinated, it emerged today that this year’s vaccine, which is determined by the World Health Organisation, is only effective in one in four cases of the current strain that is circulating in Ireland.

“Sometimes they get it bang on and we get an exact match and sometimes the virus drifts and we get a different strain from the strain that’s in the vaccine,” Dr Darina O’Flanagan, Director of the HPSC said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today.

Of the 18 H3N2 flu strains in Ireland about 72% have drifted this year. O’Flanagan said she would still urge people in vulnerable groups to get the vaccine. In a bad year, up to 1,000 people can die of flu and preventing 25% of those deaths is not insignificant, she said.

Influenza is expected to increase over the coming weeks and circulate for at least the next 6-8 weeks. Anyone who has a chronic health condition, older people, pregnant women, people who are overweight and healthcare workers are all advised to get the vaccine immediately.

Read: Flu is ‘actively circulating’ and on the rise in Ireland>

More: Jump in flu cases and doctor changeover: The ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’?>

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