Early Flu Season Hits Mass., Amid Questions About Vaccine Match

Health officials say it's still important to get a flu shot this year despite indications that the vaccine may not be highly effective against this year's predominant strain

"We are encouraging people who have not been vaccinated to get their flu shot now", said Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer for the Southern Nevada Health District. On average, the CDC says flu kills about 24,000 Americans each year, and last year, the toll included 105 children. Even if the shots may not be 100 percent effective, they can still make flu symptoms less severe.

This year's flu vaccine was also found to have been only 10 percent effective on one strain of the flu, called H3N2 in Australia.

But about this year's vaccine: Health authorities are still absolutely clear that getting a vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu, but the New England Journal of Medicine offers some less-than-great news about this vaccine's effectiveness.

There are many reasons to get a flu vaccine each year.

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With winter kicking into full swing, so is flu season.

Dr. Gordon said the vaccine was about 60 to 70 percent effective previous year. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death.

CDC's Jernigan cautions there's no good way to predict how bad the upcoming flu season will be. And although strains that circulate in the Southern Hemisphere often spread to North America and Europe, there's no guarantee it will make a repeat performance.

"By getting the vaccine you're not only protecting yourself but it's that herd immunity".

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The strain, H3N2, showed a high level of resistance to vaccines in Australia, and is expected to continue to do so in Canada. The two people who died were older than 65, according to a release from the health department. The CDC estimates that 40% to 50% of people who get vaccinated might still get the flu.

He also suggests for older folks to ask for the higher dose of the flu shot, since your immune system isn't as strong.

But the Fauci article points to another possible factor: most flu vaccines are grown in eggs. "The best flu vaccine is the one that you get".

Glaser isn't sure why there were so many cases of the flu here last season, but said severity fluctuates from year to year.

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