Vaccinated and still got the flu?!?!?!?

Do you have a fever and headache? Is your nose running, with a sore throat and dry cough? Are you tired with muscle aches? You might have influenza or “the flu” as we commonly call it. You may have gotten vaccinated and you still got a bad case of the flu. This is one of those influenza seasons where the experts didn’t quite get it right.

So what happened?
Influenza virus is constantly changing and evolving and each year public health experts get together several months in advance (the FDA will make their recommendation for next year’s vaccine on February 21, 2008) of the flu season to choose three strains of influenza to put in the vaccine, H1N1 strain, H3N2 strain and a B virus strain. It is part science and part art. For more information on this process try your hand at predicting the flu using a program developed as part of the Disease Detective exhibition currently at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

According to Dr. Joe Bresee, the Branch Chief, in the branch of Epidemiology and Prevention of the CDC’s Influenza Division, the H1N1 strain in the vaccine this year is a good match to the circulating strain but the H3N2 type strain and the B strain are not ideal matches. So protection is probably lower than expected in a season when vaccine strains and circulating strains are well matched. Usually, the guesswork is pretty good: Bresee has said, the vaccines have been a good match in 16 of the last 19 flu seasons.

Why are people so sick this year?
It just so happens – and we don’t know why – that H3N2 strains of influenza virus are more severe. For this season the number of people infected with H3N2 influenza is on the rise. The past two years the H1N1 strain predominated and so those infected were not as sick.

What are all these H’s and N’s?
Influenza is categorized as influenza A type viruses and influenza B type viruses. The A viruses are further broken down and characterized by the proteins found on the surface of the virus. These proteins are called hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). The proteins change as the influenza virus evolves so numbers are used to designate the different types of H and N proteins.

Remember vaccination is still your best defense against influenza. The experts have been right 16 of the past 19 seasons and as Dr. Bresee reports…

But even in those years where the vaccine matches less well against the circulating strains, we know that getting vaccinated will tend to make the illnesses milder, lessen the chances a person has a very severe outcome.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

flinch619's picture
flinch619 says:

this is scary! dude idk if i got a flu shot or not. im tweakin


posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:26am
Kunicki24's picture
Kunicki24 says:

So would you recomend still getting a flu shot even if it is close to march and is it true that the flu season is going to last until May?

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:27am
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

Check with your doctor to be sure. February is often the peak of flu season and it takes about two weeks before your immunity is fully developed. Two of the three strains offer partial protection against the circulating flu strains and one offers better protection. Its really up to you, the vaccine won't increase your chance of getting the flu and it may decrease your chance of getting really sick.

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 11:16am
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

After the first child died during the current flu season last week you are encouraged to vaccinate your kids. The Minnesota Department of Health announced the death. There have been special flu shot clinics and more will occur this weekend.

In the metropolitan area, a number of public influenza vaccine clinics are in the process of being set up, and MDH is working with local health officials and the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency (MVNA) to set up more clinics if necessary. The MVNA will hold a clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 1 and March 8 at their office at 3433 Broadway St. NE. Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55413, for anyone ages 6 months and older. MVNA will also hold clinics at various Cub Foods stores on Friday, March 7, 3-7 p.m. and Saturday, March 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition, the Hennepin County Health Department plans to provide influenza vaccination at some of its regularly scheduled public health clinics. The dates, times and locations of public flu shot clinics will be available at the MDH Find a Flu Shot Clinic web site.

For more information about Jasmine Levy the twelve year old who died from influenza see Kare11 and the StarTribune

posted on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 3:51pm
zypher's picture
zypher says:

this is weird...my sister had the flu shot and she got the flu.....i never had my flu shot and now i am really thinking about not getting it.....i don't want to get sick!!!!!!! So i hope you guys fix the problem.

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:32am
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

You won't get sick from getting the influenza vaccine. Remember they got it right 16 of the past 19 flu seasons.

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 11:17am
Porscha2008's picture
Porscha2008 says:

I think that this is a very scary situation. i got the flu shot this year and i hope that it prevents me form getting it because if not i just got the shot for no apparent reason. i think this is a very good subject though.

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:32am
andyshadexx's picture
andyshadexx says:

I kinda get what you were saying, but in the future will there be a stronger flu then this one?

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:34am
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

Maybe, but that is not really related to this current flu season. When Dr. Bresee was asked a similar about this flu season as a precursor to a pandemic. This was his reply...

A pandemic of influenza arises when a novel or completely new type of flu emerges in the population and then spreads easily from person to person.

The viruses we′re seeing in the country and in the world right now are viruses of types that are common in the human population, both in the U.S. and all over the world, and so these viruses won′t cause a pandemic.

It doesn′t mean, though, that these viruses are mild or innocuous. Clearly we know that every year in influenza, people die of influenza in the country and a lot of people are hospitalized, ... so the message is that it doesn′t have to be a pandemic to be a severe disease and to cause flutters in my stomach.
--Dr. Joe Bresee, CDC

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 11:49am
LEE's picture
LEE says:

So getting the flu shot would be a good idea to make your chances slim of getting the flu (or worst)? What if it's already pasted the flu season, should you still get the flu shot?

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:34am
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

In general getting a flu shot is a good idea. I'm not sure if it is too late to still get one this year. Check with your doctor.

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 11:50am
Candice's picture
Candice says:


posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:40am
shanee's picture
shanee says:

This information i is really cool becaue really i wouldnt be surprised that this vaccine has did work for everyone...i guess technology isnt fully there...so keep up the good work!

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:44am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I got my first flu shot this year and it was the first one in probobly 10, to 12 years. I've been around many people this year who had the flu and i have felt fine. Maybe because of the shot, maybe not, still seems like a good idea to have one

posted on Thu, 02/21/2008 - 8:58pm
hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

so do i still need the flu shot?

posted on Wed, 02/20/2008 - 10:51am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

Wait a minute. So do i need to take another one or not?

posted on Sun, 02/24/2008 - 1:41pm
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

You don't need another vaccination this year - but be sure to get one next year.

posted on Mon, 02/25/2008 - 1:48pm
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

See the comment I just posted above. Public health officials still recommend getting vaccinated.

posted on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 3:53pm
fitch's picture
fitch says:

My 13 year old daughter did get vaccinated this year, and was diagnosed with the flu yesterday. She is extremely ill. 102 degree fever for three days so far. She is taking tamiflu, it doesn't seem to be helping much with symptoms.. She has extreme body aches, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and a dry hacking cough. My entire family was vaccinated, but we are now waiting to see who will be next. Having had the vaccine, it doesn't seem to be making her symptoms less severe, so I really don't see the point of getting vaccinated now, if you haven't been, for this year. I do believe in getting vaccinated, and we all will again next year, but the push for vaccination now, when the FDA and CDC know they didn't get the strain nailed down for this season seems pointless.

posted on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 9:51am
Twila's picture
Twila says:

I would be so upset if I got a shot thinking that I wasn't going to get the flu and I ended up getting it anyway. It makes you think should you really get the shot.

posted on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 11:08am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Thanks for the info. I got the shot and I got the flu. It is nice to find an honest to the question, why.

posted on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 7:32pm
MilitarySavingAngel's picture
MilitarySavingAngel says:

Yeah, I was wondering what was up with all this flu talk. I got the shot, and guess what? I got the flu. I still have it. I got back from the emergency room last night and they explained everything to me. This is seriously the worse I have ever felt in my life. The e.r. doc told me that I have a very rare strain of the flu and no wonder why I felt like I could die. Honestly, I am still glad I got the shot. Did it help? No, but I can say that if I had that strain of the flu that it would have helped. I hope everyone is feeling well and all have a great day!

posted on Thu, 03/05/2009 - 12:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i truely belive over long periods of time we are weakening our immune systems by getting these shots. when the virus's mutate and change into new viruses, the old vaccines dont work anymore and in my case have caused me to become severly ill with all the symptoms of the flu at the worst. I got the flu shot but it sure didnt help, im going to the hospital immediatly for a diagnoses and i recommend to anyone who thinks these vaccines protect you for a season are actually weakening our immune systems in the long run. Government cares but they are sooooooo dam stupid they dont understand long term effects. 20 years of immunization isnt long term BTW.

posted on Wed, 03/18/2009 - 2:01pm
grady hooper's picture

some 40 years ago I got the flu several weeks after the only flu shot I have ever had and no flu since. We need to study those who do all the wrong things but never get the disease to see how to maintain wellness.

posted on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 9:05am
future's picture
future says:

anyone still reading this? do you find it interesting that they were talking about h1n1 in late 2007? there was talk of putting the strain in the 2008 flu shot?!?!?! i thought this was a NEW strain in late 2008?!? something bigger is happening here. Sounds like a ploy to pass a healthcare bill to me. Didn't Axelrod (advisor to Obama) once say, "Never let a good panic go to waste?"

posted on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 8:04am
bryan kennedy's picture

I just want to make sure I want to understand what you are implying happened here, before I go check the dates. Are you suggesting that a mass panic (controlling millions of American's opinions, hundreds of independent media outlets, and quite a few government agencies) and a real disease were created by the Obama administration so as to help pass health care legislation? Really?

posted on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 11:53am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

It's the long con, BK. The Obama administration was working on this one way back in 2007. Yeah, the current administration did a lot of sneaky things in '07 and '08.

Or, because that doesn't make any sense, it could be that future is confusing the H1N1 flu with the H5N1 strain of "bird flu" that was still threatening to become a pandemic in 2007.

posted on Mon, 12/14/2009 - 1:13pm
Marcelo's picture
Marcelo says:

Hello im form Canada,

I took the flu shot this year as it was recommended by my doctor as i have a new born baby so i dont give her the flu,
I took the flu shot for the first time in my life and i never been more sick from common cold and flues in my life.

my doctor said is normal,
i i said to her that what is the fu#$%?g point of having
the flu shot if you still get sick,

My doctor said is recommended by the pharmaceutical companies.

so basically doctors today don't go by there own opinion but the opinion of the pharmaceutical companies,

im so sick of getting sick and even more scare for my daughter.

posted on Mon, 01/17/2011 - 12:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I never get the flu. However last fall they pushed the issue about getting the flu shot, so I did. I'm layin in bed right now with the flu. Its strange how I never get the flu until I get the shot then I catch it. I will never get the shot again.

posted on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 12:39pm
Liz C.'s picture
Liz C. says:

I received the flu shot in October 2011, and was hit very hard with the flu on December 10th. It was a rough one, and I'm a healthy adult with no other medical or health issues. I'm just starting to have an appetite and regain my strength. When trying to get something to drink, as I became so dehydrated, I passed out in my kitchen and hit my head pretty hard. Ouch...anyway, I sure hope I now have the antibodies against that strain of flu.

posted on Mon, 01/09/2012 - 10:58am
madbluejay's picture
madbluejay says:

I am 52 and did get the flu vaccine this year, however I did get sick and now in my second week it has hit my lungs. bummer. taking over the counter meds. headache pressure, joint/muscle pain, heavy lungs. last year i developed pleurisy after the flu hit me hard.

posted on Sun, 12/30/2012 - 6:03pm
Ronnie's picture
Ronnie says:

I had the flu in '73 when I was a little kid. It's absolutely horrible.
I still remember the horrible symptoms that I had. They almost
put me in the hospital.

posted on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 10:18pm
Leah's picture
Leah says:

I got the shot in October 2014, now it December 2014 and I'm so sick. I never get the shot but I think now I'm never getting it again
I hate being this sick!

posted on Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:36am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The news has been reporting that this season's flu vaccine only covers about a third of the possible flu viruses that can infect a person. Even though you are likely to get sick, it is best to still get the flu shot since it is better than no defence at all.

posted on Sun, 12/28/2014 - 6:18pm

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