Doctors encourage flu vaccine late in season

Number of flu cases in Missouri still in thousands but slowly decreasing

Citing data provided by the Centers for Disease Control, Kao said that about 36,000 cases of flu-like illness were reported during the Lunar New Year holiday, and some of those who had serious complications were young or middle-aged people.

Independent experts are cheering the return of the nasal vaccine for the next flu season because of its potential to increase the vaccination rate among children. While flu cases may be on the decline, it's still a good idea to get the shot, area health officials said. The estimates of overall flu vaccine effectiveness for children are higher with an estimated 59 percent effectiveness against all types of Influenza in children 6 months to 8 years of age. "The flu is extremely unpredictable, so it's hard to say, yeah, this is it".

The Mail also included profiles and photos of some of those who have died from the flu this season, ranging from a 4-year-old boy with an underlying health condition to healthy and fit adults.

Don't be lulled by reports that this year's bad flu season is finally on the wane. However, when the H3N2 virus is the dominant strain, vaccine effectiveness isn't as strong, Vox reports.

However, the vaccine proved significantly less effective at general prevention than the flu shot. The vaccine was also 42% effective for those who fell ill with influenza B.

"As the flu season progresses, there is a shift from Influenza A to Influenza B, so it's really important still that we take this seriously and make sure everyone gets their flu shot", McCall said.

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So why did this season's vaccines not deliver higher protection against H3N2?

The most recent statewide data show intensive care unit admissions and outpatient visits for influenza have decreased, according to an Illinois Department of Public Health report. We're also looking at the difference in effectiveness in people 65 years and older who were vaccinated with high-dose influenza vaccine and adjuvanted influenza vaccine to see if effectiveness was better than in those vaccinated with standard dose vaccines.

Some theories: Maybe protection against H3N2 requires "a higher amount of H3N2 antigen to elicit a proper immune response", compared to that needed against other strains, Gottlieb said.

According to the latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this season's flu vaccine is 36 percent effective overall against influenza and 25 percent effective against the predominant strain (H3) causing most of the infections in MS and the United States.

"We must continue to be diligent in doing our part to prevent the spread of flu however possible", he added, "including remembering to wash your hands frequently and staying home when you are sick".

The FDA remains committed to determining the root cause for the shortcomings observed in the effectiveness of this season's flu vaccine against H3N2, notifying the public of our work as we gain new insights, and applying what we learn to future vaccine development.

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