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CDC: This Year’s Flu Vaccination Offers 23 Percent Protection

CDC urges early antiviral treatment if symptoms appear

THURSDAY, Jan. 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) — This season’s influenza vaccine reduces the risk of needing medical care because of the flu by only 23 percent, according to research published in the Jan. 16 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Most years, flu vaccine effectiveness ranges from 10 to 60 percent, the CDC reports. This year’s vaccine is most effective — 26 percent — for children 6 months old through 17 years. Older people get less benefit — just 12 percent for those 18 to 49 years and 14 percent for those 50 and older, the CDC said.

Despite the reduced effectiveness of this season’s flu vaccines, “vaccination is still important,” lead report author Brendan Flannery, Ph.D., an epidemiologist with the CDC, told HealthDay. “But there are ways of treating and preventing flu that are especially important this season,” he added.

“Physicians should be aware that all hospitalized patients and all outpatients at high risk for serious complications should be treated as soon as possible with one of three available influenza antiviral medications if influenza is suspected, regardless of a patient’s vaccination status and without waiting for confirmatory testing,” Joe Bresee, M.D., branch chief in the CDC’s Influenza Division, said in a CDC news release. “Health care providers should advise patients at high risk to call promptly if they get symptoms of influenza.”

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