Medical experts warn about new flu strain emerging

Lubbock Impact offering free flu shots on Friday

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures that, overall, the flu vaccine is 36 percent effective at preventing disease.

Welch says that he expects to see high rates of flu continue for the next several weeks. ILI, or influenza-like illness, rose to a 7.7 percent increase, the most since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, or swine flu.

Still, even with lower effectiveness against H3N2, "I would still take 25 percent over nothing any day of the week", Belongia said. But this season's dominant strain, known as H3N2 or the "Hong Kong" flu, is especially virulent because it tends to mutate more than other strains, rendering our vaccines less effective.

"The fact that the vaccine doesn't work as well as we would like is clearly a contributing factor", said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University vaccine expert. Department officials believe New Brunswick's high numbers are because of the longer flu season, and co-circulation of both strains. The number of influenza cases in DE is continuing to rise.

Moreover, American vaccines were found to give stronger protection than those available in Canada and Australia, where flu shots are only 17 percent and 10 percent effective, respectively. One as yet unanswered question is whether those versions of the vaccine were better or worse than vaccine produced in chicken eggs. "This is a awful incident, and it affects not only the family, and our hearts and prayers go out to the family, but it affects so many different families who are all now anxious and scared about what could happen to their children". Also, the CDC recommends that individuals avoid close contact with sick people, avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth, and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs. Earlier this year, he signed an executive order suspending the state law restricting pharmicists from vaccinating children ages 2 to 18.

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"Scientists at the FDA, CDC, and NIH are working diligently to fully understand the basis of this finding, so that all of next year's vaccines can provide better protection in preventing the flu", states Gottlieb.

Officials say there were two flu-related child deaths in the state last flu season.

Connolly said she ended up administering about 30 doses of flu vaccine, mostly to children from elementary grades to high school age.

"The way we make vaccines can cause changes in the strain and there was to the H3N2".

Even in Maryland, some deaths have been reported in connection with the virus. If you think you have the flu, call or visit your doctor.

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