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Effectiveness of Seasonal Flu Vaccines

As winter approaches, the push for getting vaccinated against the seasonal flu gains momentum. Despite the annual variations in the effectiveness of influenza vaccines, recent studies continue to underscore their critical role in controlling the spread of the virus and mitigating its impact.

Each year, the flu vaccine’s effectiveness fluctuates primarily due to how well the vaccine strains match the circulating viruses. This past 2022-23 flu season offers valuable insights into the vaccine’s performance. According to research by McLean and colleagues (2023), the vaccine was 54% effective against influenza A, the predominant strain. This level of effectiveness provided substantial protection for individuals under 65 and markedly reduced the incidence of symptomatic influenza among children and adolescents.

Across the Atlantic, the European experience mirrored these findings, albeit with some variations. Kissling and team (2023) reported that vaccine effectiveness in Europe against influenza A ranged from 27% to 44%. Notably, the vaccine’s efficacy was higher among children, highlighting an age-related disparity in effectiveness, particularly against different influenza subtypes.

Canada’s experience during the same season reinforced the vaccine’s utility, with an overall effectiveness of 54% against influenza A, as reported by Skowronski and associates (2023). These findings are particularly significant as they demonstrate the vaccine’s ability to alleviate the burden on healthcare systems during seasons characterized by early and unusual influenza activity.

These studies affirm that despite the inherent challenges in predicting vaccine effectiveness, influenza vaccination remains our best strategy against the disease. It significantly reduces the incidence of flu and its severe outcomes, providing a buffer that helps maintain public health during the flu season.

As research continues and vaccine formulations are refined, the hope is to enhance their efficacy further. However, the prevailing evidence makes a compelling case for annual flu vaccinations as a critical component of public health strategy, particularly in safeguarding the vulnerable segments of the population from the virus’s brunt.


  1. McLean, H., Petrie, J., Hanson, K., Meece, J., Rolfes, M., Sylvester, G. C., Neumann, G., Kawaoka, Y., & Belongia, E. (2023). Interim Estimates of 2022–23 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — Wisconsin, October 2022–February 2023. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 72, 201-205.
  2. Kissling, E., Maurel, M., Emborg, H., Whitaker, H., McMenamin, J., Howard, J., Trebbien, R., Watson, C., Findlay, B., Pozo, F., Bolt Botnen, A., Harvey, C., Rose, A. M. C. (2023). Interim 2022/23 influenza vaccine effectiveness: six European studies, October 2022 to January 2023. Eurosurveillance, 28.
  3. Skowronski, D., Chuang, E., Sabaiduc, S., Kaweski, S., Kim, S., Dickinson, J. A., Olsha, R., Gubbay, J., Zelyas, N., Charest, H., Bastien, N., Jassem, A., De Serres, G. (2023). Vaccine effectiveness estimates from an early-season influenza A(H3N2) epidemic, including unique genetic diversity with reassortment, Canada, 2022/23. Eurosurveillance, 28.
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