Carlos Maisonet, 73, reacts as Dr. Eva Berrios-Colon, a professor at Touro College of Pharmacy, injects him with flu vaccine during a visit to the faculty practice center at Brooklyn Hospital in New York, Jan.15, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Bebeto Matthews
TORONTO - A new study suggests this year's flu vaccine provided little protection to those 65 and older who got a shot.
The data suggest the vaccine reduced an older adult's risk of contracting H3N2 influenza, which is the main strain circulating in North America this winter, by only nine per cent.
The work was done for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which released the findings today.
Dr. Joe Bresee, a flu expert with the CDC, says it's important for older people to know that if they got a shot and have developed flu-like illness, they could have the flu and should see a doctor about whether they need antiviral drugs.
The vaccine effectiveness study found that overall, this year's flu vaccine reduced the risk of developing influenza requiring medical care by 56 per cent, and for H3N2, the overall estimate was 47 per cent.
That is very close to the interim vaccine effectiveness estimate for Canada released last month, which placed the overall protection level against H3N2 this year at 45 per cent.