Debbie, a new grandmother, calls in to Doctor On Demand to ask Dr. Pat Basu about the efficacy of the current flu vaccine and whether she should follow the orders of her daughter’s doctor and get a flu shot before spending time around her newborn granddaughter.
“First and foremost, outside of washing your hands and staying out of crowded, dirty places, the No. 1 thing you can and should be doing is to get the flu shot," Dr. Basu says. "It is absolutely recommended every year.”
However, Dr. Basu admits that this year’s flu shot has not been as effective as previous formulas, but not because scientists got it wrong. Every year the virus replicates and changes a tiny bit. Over time, as the number of changes increases, the vaccine's efficacy can diminish.
The flu of 2015, Dr. Basu says, is different enough from the vaccine created only a few months ago that the shot currently is only 20-23 percent effective at fighting the flu.
“That’s the bad news," he adds. "The good news is that treating the flu with anti-viral medications, such as Tamiflu, is easier than ever before and more effective – especially when started within the first two days of the onset of symptoms.”
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Doctor On Demand is published by Doctor on Demand, Inc., which is owned, in part, by The Doctors’ executive producer Jay McGraw.