2020 Flu Shot (in)Effectiveness & and a South Florida update
Bottom Line: If you’ve had the flu shot this year, there’s a good news/bad news angle to it. The bad news is if you’ve had the flu shot and you’re exposed to the flu – you'll likely get the flu. The good news is this year’s generally ineffective flu vaccine is actually proving to be better generally than last year. The flu vaccine in its current form is always an educated guessing game. The flu is a virus that’s potentially always on the move. Scientists guess what the strains of flu will be months before the start of the season and hope they were right about what it will be by the time peak season rolls around. Hitting a moving target is always a bit of a challenge and this year’s vaccine is proving to be one they largely missed. The average effective rating for all current strains of flu is 46% according to the most recent CDC data – so the odds are it won’t protect you from the flu. The good news is it’s performing better than last year. How was last year’s performance? Just 29% effective.
The CDC has tracked the flu vaccine's effectiveness with its current methodology (adjusting for demographics) since 2004. Here's the scorecard.
- Most effective: 60% (2010)
- Least effective: 10% (2004)
- Average effectiveness: 40%
So, while the flu vaccine isn’t a match for what could potentially ail you most of the time, it’s better than last year and better than most years. Just don’t put all of your eggs in the flu vaccine basket. In the meantime, hopefully there’s progress behind the scenes on the rumored “universal” flu shot. That would be a game changer. As for Florida – there's improving news for us generally. While the flu is still “widespread” according to the CDC it’s been decreasing in Florida over the past week and all of South Florida is only experiencing “mild” activity. Ten counties have moderate activity and three no reported outbreaks.