Report: Flu vaccine less effective this year

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Report: Flu vaccine less effective this year
Report: Flu vaccine less effective this year
This season's flu vaccine may not offer as much protection against infection as it has in years past, according to a published report.

The vaccine, which is usually 70% to 90% effective in preventing infection, is only 52% effective this year, according to a Defense Department study cited in the Washington Post.

When producing a flu vaccine, experts must guess which strains of influenza will be most prevalent during flu season - months before the season begins. This year, after producing their vaccine, experts discovered two new strains of influenza not covered by the inoculation. These new strains, called "Brisbane" and "Yamagata" after the locations of the first reported cases, now account for almost half of all influenza infections this season, report authors noted.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that, while this season's vaccine may not prevent infection in a large number of people, it is not totally ineffective. Those who have received the vaccine and still contract the flu will likely have milder symptoms than non-vaccinated people. The CDC is urging people with a high risk of flu complications, especially the elderly and frail, to get vaccinated because the flu season typically peaks in the weeks ahead.