The Flu Isn't Playing Around This Year. Here's How to Fight Back

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Preliminary figures released Thursday suggest the vaccine is 36 percent effective overall in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a patient to the doctor's office.

Welch added that he expects to see high rates of flu continue for the next several weeks. The vaccine provided 59 percent protection against H3N2 in children 8 and younger.

There are three major strains of flu virus circulating at the moment, causing one of the worst flu seasons in recent years.

And, she said, the flu season may not end for months. Groups of people come from the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere to decide which strain of flu will be prominent during the winter season. "Years ago they weren't allowed to administer flu shots".

Twice a year a global vaccine committee comes together to discuss and prepare for flu season. One as yet unanswered question is whether those versions of the vaccine were better or worse than vaccine produced in chicken eggs. The patients were all adults, with the vast majority over the age of 65. Of the children who died during those years, less than a third had been vaccinated.

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.

Ultimately, scientists say the only real solution is a "universal" influenza vaccine that would not only protect against seasonal flu but also guard against a future pandemic. 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. Hospitals in Fauquier and Prince William counties are reporting higher numbers of the illness compared to previous year.

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Forty-eight states are reporting widespread flu activity and hospitalizations are higher than any other year since the CDC began keeping track.

"We're urging everybody who hasn't been vaccinated, to rush out and get vaccinated", he said.

"The vaccines that we have today are not the ones that we'd like to have in 10 years", she said.

"As soon as they have symptoms", said Dr. Fry, "and they suspect they might have the flu, they should call their doctor right away".

The CDC also reported 10 more influenza-associated pediatric deaths, 7 of which were associated with influenza A viruses and 3 of which were associated with influenza B viruses.

Even when it doesn't work well, the flu vaccine can save many lives.

Two other flu vaccines on the USA market are made without eggs.