It’ll take until almost the end of the flu season for doctors to know just how effective getting the shot was in battling the illness.
“We cannot predict how efficient the flu vaccine (will) be this year,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Chief Medical Health Officer in Saskatchewan.
He said it won’t be until about February that health professionals know how this year’s version of the vaccine worked.
Shahab explained the vaccine is different each year. He said the World Health Organization (WHO) decides what goes into the vaccine, taking into account the strains that surfaced in the southern hemisphere during their winter, or Saskatchewan’s summer. The organization also looks at the prevalent strains in the northern hemisphere from the previous winter.
Shahab said the vaccine has to be made a full six to eight months in advance of a new flu season in order to produce and have millions of doses ready. Vaccines are later studied to see just how effective they were in a population.
Doctors try to match the vaccine with the strain as close as possible. While it may not be perfect, Shahab said the best way to protect against the flu is to simply get the shot.
“Even if the match is lower, it is still important to get the flu shot because that 10, 20, 30 per cent protection that you get, can make the difference between getting sick with a mild case of the flu or getting hospitalized.”