24 hospitalized -- all had received a flu vaccine in the fall
State Officials ID Strain Of Flu That Caused Outbreak At Rocky Hill Vets Homehttp://www.courant.com/health/connectic ... 3335.story
The strain of flu that sent 24 veterans living at a Rocky Hill residential home to the hospital has been identified as one that was targeted by this year's influenza vaccine.
Linda Schwartz, commissioner of the state Department of Veterans' Affairs, said Thursday that state health officials have informed her that it was the H3N2 strain that caused several veterans at the Connecticut State Veterans Home to get sick. The vaccine that was given for this season protects against influenza B and H1N1 and H3N2, two subtypes of influenza A.
Veterans were sent to the hospital between Sunday and Tuesday. Schwartz said Thursday that no one "in the last 24 hours" had been hospitalized.
Because so many veterans caught the flu, Schwartz said she had worried that it may have been a new strain for which there was no vaccine.Schwartz said all the veterans at the home received a shot. "We'll be looking at the batches and see if there any indication that there was a flaw," she said.
Lynn Sosa, deputy state epidemiologist, said earlier this week that the vaccine could have lost its effectiveness because it is now so late in the flu season.
Even though several veterans caught the flu, Schwartz said the situation likely would have been much worse had they not been vaccinated.
"The protection afforded by the vaccination has minimized the clinical symptoms, so that they're not as severe," she said.
She said officials at the state Department of Public Health recommended against giving a second flu shot to the residents. That's partly because the vaccine counteracts the effects of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug used to treat influenza, which is being administered to many of the veterans and employees of the veterans home. The home has 478 veterans, almost all men, and 313 employees.
Schwartz said she and DPH officials are discussing how to better prevent such a situation in the future.
"We're collecting some data to see when exactly these veterans got their shots, and we're working with DPH to see if there are any other trends," she said.