Early Flu Season Hits Mass., Amid Questions About Vaccine Match

US doctors are bracing for a potentially miserable winter because of ineffective flu shots. Over the past few months Australia was hit hard with a flu strain that's notorious for causing severe illness especially in seniors. US doctors believe the same

Scientists meet at the World Health Organization early every year to predict what strains will be most prominent, and then make and distribute those vaccines over a period of months based on those predictions - putting medicine a few steps behind the quickly-mutating influenza.

Right now, four states have widespread flu activity according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Widespread flu activity is being reported in MA and it is the highest amount of activity the state has seen in some time.

This year's flu vaccine was also found to have been only 10 percent effective on one strain of the flu, called H3N2 in Australia.

According to Mel Miller, Tioga County Public Health Nurse, "It is important to get the flu vaccine because if you get the flu it can be very serious". However, while vaccinated people can still get sick, generally they get a milder and less risky form of the illness.

The study explains "vaccine mismatches" occur when circulating influenza strains change after the decision about vaccine composition is made, which can lead to reduced effectiveness.

Edmonton has seen 167 cases of influenza in 2017.

Last year only about 47 per cent of the population was vaccinated in the US. CDC's Jernigan cautions there's no good way to predict how bad the upcoming flu season will be. Doctors also encourage folks to wash their hands frequently
Killer Flu Season Expected This Year

Wash your hands frequently during the flu season.

If an individual doesn't do anything about symptoms and tries to push through having the flu, the result could be hospitalization or even death, Crow said.

You can ask your doctor, or the local pharmacy about getting the vaccine.

"However imperfect, though, current influenza vaccines remain a valuable public health tool, and it is always better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated", the paper said.

Flu is most risky for people over age 65, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions such as asthma or heart disease.

For needle-phobes, there's a skin-deep vaccine that uses tiny needles, and a needle-free jet injector that shoots another vaccine through the skin. One way communities are working on getting more people vaccinated against influenza is by holding school located flu clinics.

And for kids between the ages of 6 months and 8 years who are getting a first-ever flu vaccination, they'll need two doses a month apart.

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