Louisiana Flu Outbreak Still Severe; Free Flu Shots Available While Supplies Last

Louisiana Flu Outbreak Still Severe; Free Flu Shots Available While Supplies Last

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 63 flu-related child deaths in the US this season. "Our public health professionals recommend that children and the elderly should get the flu shot as the best way to prevent serious medical complications that can result from influenza virus".

The vaccine provided good protection - 67 percent effective - against another common kind of flu virus, Type A H1N1, which has not been seen much this winter.

But the good news is that it works better in kids. The vaccine provided 59 percent protection against H3N2 in children 8 and younger. Studies in those two countries showed the vaccine only prevented 10 percent or 17 percent of H3N2 cases.

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This year's flu vaccines reduce the chance of getting the flu by about one-third but are just 25% effective against the nasty strain causing the most misery, according to preliminary estimates released Thursday.

The CDC said they believe in the US, a better indicator is the vaccine's effectiveness a year ago. New York City has reported more than 4,200 flu-positive respiratory samples as of week 4. Most U.S. flu vaccines are grown in chicken eggs, a process that takes six to eight months. There are hundreds of viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms.

Of those who did have influenza, 43 percent had been vaccinated. To make the effectiveness calculations, researchers tracked who got the flu, and who among them had been vaccinated.

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Jennifer Thomas, nursing director and administrator at the Mason County Health Department, said flu season can begin as early as September and last as long as April. That data will come later. But experts have wondered whether low vaccine effectiveness is another reason for the surprisingly severe season hitting the United States this winter. "Every flu season is different, but every flu season is bad". This year, all the strains are known, even expected.

The CDC tested the now approved antiviral medications oseltamivir (brand name Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab) and zanamivir (Relenza Diskhaler) against the now circulating flu strains.

"Everybody is encouraged to get the flu vaccine this season, even though the vaccine is not 100 percent effective", she said. H3N2 circulated among humans for the first time in 1968, so people born several years before that tend to have less effective immune responses to it than those born more recently.

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"I'd never had the flu before and I can't believe I got it after getting the shot", she said.

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