Payne County Health Department offering free flu shots

Payne County Health Department offering free flu shots

The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses.

Given how contagious the flu has proven to be, a vaccination that prevents even one person from contracting the flu would prevent multitudes of others contracting it from them. But they are preventing just 25% of illnesses caused by a type of influenza A called H3N2.

In response to this year's challenging flu season, we offered additional opportunities for free flu shots. "Influenza-related illness is identified and responded to using best practices". All the numbers come with statistical hedging: Because they are based on fairly small groups of patients, the real numbers could be somewhat higher or lower.

Still, the need for better flu vaccines is clear, experts said.

The estimates were published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Flu season runs through May, so it is important to have protection as soon as possible".

"It is not too late to get a flu shot", said Kelli Rader, regional director. People must get a new vaccine every year to be protected.

The study examined specific immune pathways known to be activated during flu infections in both humans and mice, which makes the findings relevant to children.

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"Any type of vaccine is better than none", said Scott Hensley, a University of Pennsylvania microbiologist who has led studies that raised critical questions about the vaccine. The CDC estimated the shot was about 67 percent effective against the H1N1 strain of flu.

As many as 646,000 people are dying globally from seasonal influenza each year, USA health officials said in December, a rise from earlier assessments of the disease's death toll.

The flu shot's overall effectiveness against all strains was pegged at 36 percent, the CDC said.

While it's been a normal year in Jefferson County, a 39-year-old Watertown woman reportedly died on February 1 after getting the flu.

Last week, the CDC reported that about 10 percent of hospitalizations in the United States are due to the flu, making this a particularly nasty season. In patients at a higher risk, the elderly, small children, people with chronic illness or compromised immune systems, health officials say the vaccine can help.

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

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