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Flu vaccine less effective for common, mutated strain

The Centers for Disease Control said this season’s flu vaccine is less effective because of the mutation of one of the most common strains going around at the moment.

Many of us run out this time of year to get a flu shot, hoping it will keep us from getting sick, but this season one strain has mutated and is poorly matched with the vaccine. “It’s not the vaccine itself is ineffective — It is that there is an antigenically different strain of the flu that is not as protected by the vaccine,” said Andrea Waner, Boone County Public Health and Human Services.

Experts design the vaccine to protect against four strains of influenza. Health officials said the H3N2 strain is the mutation and has a history of being dangerous for high-risk populations such as the elderly. Therefore, health officials are stressing the importance of antivirals such as Tamiflu. “The CDC is saying it’s super important this year because of that mutation of the flu strain — is to be treated with antiviral medications, and ideally they like that to happen within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu-like symptoms,” said Waner.

Boone County health officials said they’ve seen an increase of the mutated strain in Mid-Missiouri. Officials said even though the vaccine is less effective for that strain, it can still protect against the others. “We still recommend that people go out and get their flu vaccine because, honestly, it’s your best protection and your best prevention effort overall,” said Waner.

Health officials recommend a flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older.

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