We Are Playing a Game of Telephone Regarding H1N1 Influenza And It Will Get People Killed

I don’t know how this happened, but I’m seeing news reports that are then being circulated around the intertoobz claiming that this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t protect against H1N1 influenza.

This is untrue (under “Antigentic Characterization”; boldface mine):

CDC has antigenically characterized 452 influenza viruses [398 2009 H1N1 viruses, 46 influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and 8 influenza B viruses] collected by U.S. laboratories since October 1, 2013 by hemagglutination inhibition (HI).

2009 H1N1 [398]:

All 398 2009 H1N1 viruses tested were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like, the influenza A (H1N1) component of the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine.

Because this year’s H1N1 is slightly different than previous H1N1 viruses, previous vaccinations might not provide protection–making it all the more urgent that you get this year’s vaccine.

This is irresponsible journalism that will convince some people that the vaccine ‘doesn’t work.’ I almost never blogwhore, but please circulate this post or the CDC links. Right now, poor reporting is doing a lot of harm. It needs to stop now.

Update: It has been suggested to me, mostly tongue in check, that for purposes of this post, I should point out that I’m actually Mike the Mad Microbiologist (that’s my day job). Really, we’re not making this stuff up. For clarification, I think the problem stems from a couple articles I’ve read where experts said last year’s vaccine might not be effective, and that got turned into this year’s vaccine.

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3 Responses to We Are Playing a Game of Telephone Regarding H1N1 Influenza And It Will Get People Killed

  1. Oh crud, thanks for the reminder. The students will be back soon with all their holiday diseases. The kids got their vaccines in the fall, but we hadn’t gotten around to getting ours. Important if we want to survive spring semester with minimal damage. And if we put it off another week we’ll be in line at Walgreens with all the returning students and CVS will be back-ordered.

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