Midway through what is shaping up to be a nasty flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed up on its December 3, 2014, health advisory that warned this season’s flu vaccines could be less effective, with another advisory on January 9, 2015, saying that anyone with flu symptoms should be treated with one of three antiviral medications—Tamiflu, Relenza or the newly approved Rapivab.
The agency recommends treatment with antiviral medications within 48 hours after symptoms begin, without waiting for confirmation of a flu diagnosis.
To address concerns caused by the potentially less effective vaccine and an increase in local demand for antivirals, NACDS facilitated a conference call, at the CDC’s request, with the agency and NACDS members to discuss the current flu season, the demand for antivirals and any other member concerns surrounding the issue.
On the call, NACDS members expressed concerns about the media attention around the genetic “drift” from the H3N2 virus contained in this year’s vaccine and the overall effectiveness of the vaccine. The media may have confused and discouraged the public from still getting a flu shot. CDC officials reinforced the importance of immunization as the best and only form of prevention, despite the vaccine being potentially less effective this year.
Following the call, NACDS stressed to the CDC the importance of encouraging prevention and flu shots and will continue to urge the agency to deliver stronger and clearer public messaging that emphasizes prevention for the remainder of the flu season.
Bottom line? Better safe than sorry. Get the flu shot.