Karen Armitage, Chief Medical Officer of the New Mexico Department of Health explained the situation with the vaccine this year.She
said this year is what is called a "miss-match" year.
Each year, the U.S. Department of Health medical personnel along with personnel from the Centers for Disease Control
use the best information they have to determine what stains of the flu virus will be active during the next flu season.She
said this decision has to be reached well ahead of the flu season because it takes about eight months to make the vaccine.Armitage
said about 40 percent of the time, either the virus morphs or mutates, some different strain of the virus actually becomes the most active in the population.She
said many "miss-match" years are not bad flu years so the miss-match goes almost unnoticed.This year was not one of those.
Although the department is still recommending people who have not been vaccinated get a flu shot, Armitage
said the vaccine being used is the same one that has been available since fall.Although it is a miss-match year, she
said people who have had the vaccine generally have a milder case of the flu than those who have not.Armitage
said people who have the flu should see their health care provider.She
said there is a class of anti-viral medications available to physicians that can be used, especially in high-risk cases.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices announced last week that it recommends flu vaccination for all children six months to 18 years beginning in the 2008-2009 influenza season.Previously, CDC
recommended flu vaccine for all children 6-59 months of age and for children who have medical conditions that may place them at higher risk for flu complications.
The new recommendation is intended to improve vaccination rates for all children and to help protect family members from contracting the flu.Armitage
said giving the vaccine to more children is thought to greatly reduce the incidents of flu in the grandparents and other older care givers.She
said the child's young, active immune system offers some protection for older adults who may have less active immune systems.The Department of Health
has pre-ordered 70,000 doses of adult flu vaccine for next year's flu season.
suggested people ages 2-49 who are healthy might want to consider taking their vaccine in a nasal mist rather than an injection.Although this is more expensive, she
said in "miss-match" years, the product is more effective.Armitage
said one of the reasons people are less likely to take the nasal mist is the reaction.
"People feel funny the next day.Their nose is congested and they say the mist made them sick.Actually, that is the healthy immune reaction when the mist reaches the nasal passages," said Armitage