Earlier today, The New York Times reported that the number deaths recorded in this year's flu season have crossed the threshold of epidemic level illness. Federal health officials noted that while the news is grim, “there were also early signs that the caseloads could be peaking.”
Officials for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to continue getting flu shots at conference call this morning. However, officials also warned that the shots are not a guarantee that the recipient won't get sick. This year's vaccine was rated as “moderately” effective at a rate of 62%. Despite this being the first time this year flu deaths have reached epidemic proportions, officials were not concerned. Outbreaks generally reach epidemic levels for one to two weeks every flu season.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the C.D.C. said the vaccine “is far from perfect, but it’s by far the best tool we have to prevent influenza.”
Michael T. Osterholm of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy released a study last year referring to the effectiveness of the vaccines as “oversold.” Osterholm believes a new vaccine needs to be developed, but says private companies and the government shy away from expensive trails required to approve new vaccines.