CDC Releases Interim Estimates on Flu Vaccine Effectiveness as Flu Remains Widespread in North Carolina

Last Updated on February 15, 2018 6:04 pm

Raleigh – With flu activity in North Carolina remaining widespread, state health officials are continuing to encourage North Carolinians to get vaccinated. Interim estimates of vaccine effectiveness released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the vaccine is approximately 36 percent effective this season and 59 percent effective for children 6 months to 8 years old. During the 2016-17 flu season, the vaccine was estimated to be 39 percent effective, close to the CDC’s initial estimate for this season.

“Overall, the vaccine has reduced the risk of getting sick from the flu and having to go to the doctor by about a third,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore. “While we all wish the flu vaccine could be more effective, this information emphasizes the importance of making sure young children get vaccinated. It’s better to get vaccinated earlier in the season, but it’s still not too late.”

Even though the vaccine doesn’t prevent all flu infections, it has been shown to protect people at higher risk of complications, like older adults, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions. It can also make the illness milder in the event someone who was vaccinated does get the flu.

So far, there have been 165 flu-associated deaths reported to the Division of Public Health this flu season. Of those, 118 have been people 65 and older.

People who think they have the flu should contact their doctor right away to see if they need treatment with a prescription antiviral drug such as Tamiflu. Early treatment with an antiviral drug can help prevent flu infections from becoming more serious. Treatment with a prescription antiviral drug is especially important for hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness and those who are at high risk of serious flu complications based on their age or health.

Other precautions to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses include:

  • Staying home when sick until fever-free for at least 24 hours
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discarding the tissue promptly
  • Washing hands frequently, preferably with soap and water

More information is available at

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