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How effective is this year's flu shot?



How effective is this year's flu vaccine? The United States is in the midst of the influenza season and a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year influenza vaccine seems to work.

CDC estimates the vaccine has reduced the risk of going to the doctor for flu-like illnesses by 47 percent in all this season. Efficiency is even higher among children aged 6 months and 17 years, where the vaccine reduces doctor visits by 61 percent.

"The numbers can be changed between now and the end of the season. The important thing is the vaccine provides some protection against the viruses circulating," says Dr. Brendan Flannery from CDC to CBS News.

The CDC says the prevalent strain of the virus so far is this H1N1 in most of the country, although a strain called H3N2 predominates in the southeast. Although [influenza] activity is lower than it was at this time last year, the disease is still responsible for somewhere between 155,000 and 186,000 hospitals and 10,000 to 16,000 deaths nationwide.

"It puts it right on track to be a season with a significant number of deaths likely to increase," says Flannery. "We also see 28 pediatric deaths so far this season, unfortunately it is also likely to increase."

Last season, the CDC died 80,000 Americans of influenza and its complications. It was the deadly toll for 40 years.

Health officials said after a slow start, the flu activity has been in the last few weeks and is now the highest it has been throughout the season. Experts emphasize if you have not yet received a flu shot yet, there is still time to get one.

You can also help avoid diseases like flu by following these guidelines from the CDC:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. If soap is not available, use alcohol-based hand cleaning.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • If you have flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except for getting medical attention or other necessities.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as bacteria spread in this way.
  • Covers your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw away the tissue.

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