Health officials say flu vaccine effective though Hawaii cases on the rise

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this year’s flu vaccine is doing a good job of keeping people from getting sick, even as the number of flu cases rises here in Hawaii.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park says no matter how effective a vaccine may be, there will still be cases of the flu because a lot of people don’t get vaccinated.

“If you don’t saturate the population and have a lot of them vaccinated, you’re going to continue to see disease going around,” Park said.

According to the CDC, this year’s flu shot is 48-percent effective — 43 percent for the H3-N2 strain, and 73 percent against the B-virus.

“So really having something so close to 50 percent is actually pretty good, although admittedly, you’d like it to be higher,” said Park.

Park said medical technology is not advanced enough yet to make a vaccination in real time.

“So if you think about it, you’re making an educated guess based on epidemiology data of what is circulating right now for next year,” she said. “There’s a lot of potential for miss, so you’re never going to get 100 percent, which is ideal.”

Park says because Hawaii is such a popular tourist destination, they see flu cases year-round.

Flu shots are available at places like Times Supermarket.

“As a health care provider, that chance that you might get protected is better than just not getting protected at all,” said pharmacy manager Patrick Uyemoto.

While vaccinations are still the best method of prevention, Park says don’t forget the other prevention methods.

“We can’t forget, we need to wash our hands. We need to be mindful if we are sick to cover your cough and sneeze. Don’t share your germs around,” she said.

It’s important to note for this year’s flu season, flu shots are recommended and the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used.

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