By Nathan Cobb, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, MeYou Health
Vaccine efficacy is a recurring topic of discussion year to year. Current estimates are that this year’s vaccine is about 30% effective, largely because the circulating strain is the “A” type, which is both nastier and more likely to mutate to evade the vaccine. In years where the “B” type predominates, vaccine efficacy usually tops 50%.
Companies, particularly smaller ones, may ask if it’s worth encouraging employees to get vaccinated if the efficacy is so low. The answer is twofold. The simplest answer is that even though efficacy is low, the vaccine can still prevent one-third of employees from getting the flu and missing work for a week or more. Those who do get the flu despite the vaccine will have a milder course. The second and perhaps more significant answer is herd immunity. Those 30% who are protected prevent the flu from spreading like wildfire through your staff and families.
Critically, it’s not too late. This flu season is far from over, and the vaccine takes effect fairly quickly. As an employer, you can still protect your staff and your productivity. Here’s how:
Dr. Nathan Cobb is MeYou Health’s Chief Medical Officer where he provides clinical oversight and leads our research and evaluation efforts. Previously, he co-founded and led development for QuitNet, MeYou Health's smoking cessation program and the longest-running quit-smoking site on the internet. He is a board-certified Pulmonary and Critical Care physician, holds academic appointments at Georgetown University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and maintains an active clinical practice. Dr. Cobb has over 30 major publications in peer-reviewed literature (including the New Journal of Medicine and American Journal of Public Health) stemming from multiple large NIH grants and studies of online network dynamics and behavior change interventions.