There Is No Such Thing As a “Bad Flu Shot”

Person receiving a flu shot.

MANHASSET, NY – The idea that there is a “bad” flu shot isn’t really correct, says a New York infectious disease physician.

The average flu shot contains several strains of the flu. About half of this year’s H3N2 strains are not matching up as well to what has turned out to be in the environment as people would have hoped, explains David Hirschwerk, MD, attending infectious disease physician at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. But, “the other strains of the virus that are circulating in the community do match up well,” he says.

Even if someone were to get the H3N2 strain of the flu, they will have some protection against it and its severity and duration should be shorter and less severe respectively, Dr. Hirschwerk says.

To create each year’s flu vaccine, the previous years’ strains throughout the globe are reviewed and people try to create a vaccine that is “as protective as possible,” Dr. Hirschwerk says.

“But from time to time, the influenza virus drifts or shifts and can change the way that it looks as compared to what was predicted,” Dr. Hirschwerk says. “And this year there seems to be a mild drift compared to what was predicted and this happens periodically. And it’s during these times when there are these drifts that there have been more robust seasons of the flu.”

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