Reward&Risk > Health > Influenza
Influenza 2012
Last revised: January 10, 2013

Influenza prevention

"Dear Editor,
Is the flu shot worth the trouble, this year?
--Virginia" 1/5/13

"Text of 'Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus'" (, )

"Dear Editor--
I am 43 years old, but I look much younger. Some of my little friends say that there is no effective flu shot, this year. Papa says 'If you see it on, it is so.' Please tell me the truth, is there a flu shot worth the trouble, this year?

Dear Virginia--
Your papa seems to have more faith in than its managers and owners do. It publishes links and opinions, which may xxxx provide a good starting points for an investigation, but are not 100% reliable as endpoints. (Read our disclaimer and terms of service.)

Your little friends might be right in their pessimistic view on this year's flu shot, but we doubt that they have the statistics to back up their claim.  

You ask, "Is the flu shot worth the trouble, this year?" We hope so, because we got ours during December, 2012. However, the articles we've seen don't report numbers that would answer you question, and it is not clear that the CDC knows. However, articles report that the CDC speaks well of this year's vaccines.

"Early flu season accelerates; no peak yet, CDC says" (NBC, 1/3/13)

The flu season came about five weeks early this year--the earliest since 2003-2004. Through 12/29/12, eighteen children died of complications. "[T]he CDC says that in the 2010-2011 flu season, vaccine effectiveness was about 60 percent for all age groups combined." Also, CDC officials said, "Overall, this year’s vaccines appear to be well matched for the two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B that are circulating this year." This year's dominant flu virus is the H3N2 strain, which can be more serious than other strains.

"Types of Influenza Viruses" (CDC, acc. 1/6/13)

As of 1/6/13 and recent dates, The influenza A "subtypes" that affect humans are H1N1 and H2N3. Influenza B viruses do not have subtypes, but belong to different "strains".

"FluTrends--U.S." (Google, acc. 1/5/13)

According to Google's "FluTrends", the estimated intensity of "flu activity" in the U.S. in December was "intense" and greater than in the recent years for which Google computed estimates. In most years the intensity has been greatest in February, but in 2009-2010 the greatest intensity was in October.