Study: 20% Efficacy Predicted for 2018 Flu Vaccine

By on 5:40 AM

A new study predicts that the vaccine used to provide immunity against this fall's flu will have an efficacy around 20%.

This means that 20% fewer vaccinated people will get the flu compared to unvaccinated people. The efficacy rate is similar to that of the vaccine administered in 2016 and 2017.

This is despite the fact that the 2018 vaccine is a new H3N2 formulation for the first time since 2015. As one of the researchers noted in a news release, "The vaccine has been changed for 2018-19, but unfortunately it still contains two critical mutations that arise from the egg-based vaccine production process."

Most flu vaccines are produced by culturing viruses in chicken eggs. The researchers note that mutations which reduce the vaccine efficacy are unavoidable through the egg-based production process.

The study was conducted by Rice University, with its findings published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Researchers used the pEpitope method to gauge the effectiveness of the new flu vaccine. The method calculates a measure of antigenic distance between two strains of influenza. The study demonstrated that the pEpitope method has accurately predicted flu vaccine efficacy rates for more than 40 years.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.