New Hampshire is one of 49 states reporting “widespread” flu activity, meaning the virus is rearing its head in more than half of the state. And according to the latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services, at least 10 adults have died from the virus in New Hampshire since September.
The effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary year to year, because the formula is developed months in advance and scientists can’t always be sure which strains will be most prevalent. Some initial reports have said this year’s vaccine is only 10 percent effective, though experts have said that statistic may not tell the full story.
Still, Paul Friedrichs, a family physician with Lamprey Healthcare in Newmarket, says that’s no reason to avoid the shot altogether. Friedrichs says his office has been receiving a steady stream of flu-related calls in recent weeks — about 25 a week, in a practice of about 250 patients — and says people are right to take the threat of the virus seriously.
“Those of us in healthcare know that people die of influenza,” said Friedrichs. “So even if the vaccine is less effective this year and well short of 100 percent effective, it’s still worthwhile.”
Public health experts also stress that a flu shot doesn’t just protect the person who gets the vaccine, it protects the people around them — which is particularly important for children or others with weaker immune systems.