England and France Report Ongoing “Grippe” Epidemic
Trivalent flu vaccine does not protect against influenza B strain
Both France and England issued influenza alerts during the first week of 2018. Most importantly, not all flu vaccines are working against this year’s dominant flu strain.
Influenza (grippe in French) is reported as circulating at higher than seasonally expected levels, with latest data for England showing a tripling in hospitalizations in just one week.
In the UK, the overall GP consultation rate for influenza-like illness increased to 21 per 100,000 population, up from 18.9 in the week to 24 December 2017, reported a study in the British Medical Journal.
This is above the normal of 13.1 per 100 000 for this season.
Public Health England has warned that the trivalent flu vaccine most commonly administered will not protect agahinst the strain of influenza B that appears to be circulating during 2018.
Another issue is that many healthcare providers have not been immunized this season.
In Ireland, less than 40% of the country’s nursing staff have had the flu vaccine, reported by the Irish Examiner.
Additionally, on January 4, 2018, French public health officials issued an alert warning that flu outbreak had reached epidemic levels in every region of the country.
The sentinel flu network reported a higher proportion of type B viruses compared to type A viruses has been detected. Of the type A detections, A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses have outnumbered A(H3N2) viruses.
For type B viruses from both sentinel and non-sentinel sources, B/Yamagata lineage viruses have greatly outnumbered those of the B/Victoria lineage.
While low in number, 59% of the genetically characterized A(H3N2) viruses belonged to clade 3C.2a, the vaccine virus clade as described in the WHO recommendations for vaccine composition for the northern hemisphere 2017–18, and 40% to clade 3C.2a1, with viruses in both clades being antigenically similar.
In the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of the inactivated influenza vaccine and the recombinant influenza vaccine.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is not endorsed during 2017-2018.
Most pharmacies in the USA offer FDA approved flu vaccines.
The flu shot cost varies depending on your insurance and which state you live. The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information.
Flu vaccine discounts can be found here.
Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.