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Will you get the flu shot?

Will you get the flu shot?

"The highest number of flu-related hospitalizations has occurred among those who are older than 50 years of age, as well as children younger than 5, which are both groups at greater risk of experiencing severe illness and complications due to flu", the health department said in a statement on November 30. Last year, a similar vaccine was 43 percent effective against the H3N2 virus and 48 percent effective overall, according to the CDC.

Although it is relatively early in this flu season, influenza activity in SC at this point has been higher than normal. Last year's flu vaccine effectiveness was just 42%, the CDC estimated this year, while preliminary estimates published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that this year's vaccine may be just 10% effective.

"The influenza vaccine still provides some level of protection".

Flu shots help protect us from the highly contagious, debilitating illness that can have severe complications in some portions of the population.

Clay Van Houten, of the state Health Department, says it's likely that the flu season peak is still a ways off, so it's not too late to get a flu shot.

This fall Harvest Drug & Gifts has given between 500 to 600 flu vaccines.

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Doctors still want you to get the shot, though. Remember: The flu is contagious so you will be helping others as well as yourself.

Lisa Smith said she thinks everyone should think critically about the vaccine before they roll up a sleeve. "And that may dampen down the contribution of H3N2 this season, which would be a good thing".

Siegel added that he worries that "this could be a very severe flu season".

And while it may not work well against H3N2, she said it's worth getting the shot for protection against infection with H1N1 and even the B strain (the B/Victoria components may offer cross-protection against B/Yamagata).

For answers to questions about the flu and the flu vaccine, people can access the CDC website at www.cdc.gov, or contact the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department at 325-646-0554. "I believe there is a booster effect, although I can't prove that".

The influenza season in Canada could be shaping up to be a potentially nasty one, with a mixed bag of viruses already circulating in much of the country, say infectious diseases experts.

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