Working to get the flu vaccine right

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (News4Utah) – It’s a gamble trying to get the flu vaccine right each year.
Scientists in our state are working to understand the genetic makeup of this year’s influenza to find out how effective the vaccine is and to make it better next year.

The work scientists and microbiologist do here at the state health lab in Taylorsville is vital to understanding not just this year’s flu, but hopefully next years.

"So right now working on influenza surveillance. We have received samples of people who have tested positive for influenza," Jared Hoffman, Microbiologist at the Utah Public Health Laboratory.

Hoffman is extracting genetic material of flu samples from people who have been hospitalized.

Alessandro Rossi, the Chief Scientist for Infectious Diseases at the state health lab, says researchers test the different strains of the flu and submit that information to the Centers for Disease Control.

"Which they collect flus from all over the state , all over 50 states which they use to help create the flu vaccine for the following year," said Hoffman.

Monitoring the flu’s genetic shift is critical information to know how the flu is changing, how effective the flu vaccine is and what to do for next year.

The predominant flu strain this season is Influenza A H3N2.

There have been nine flu deaths in Salt Lake County. Utah is reporting 580 confirmed flu cases so far.

Researchers know how important their work is. The flu season is typically from October to May, but researchers test flu samples all year round.

The CDC and scientists believe this year’s vaccine is roughly 30 percent effective.

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