What's more, this year's flu shot may not be up to the task.
At the core of vaccine creation lies hemagglutinin, a protein on influenza viruses that allows flu to penetrate cells.
"We are using the same vaccine that the Australians used during their flu season and the virus that's circulating here so far seems to be similar to the virus that gave them such problems", Fauci said. Across all the strains for which it was produced, the vaccine was about 33 percent effective in Australia. The U.S. sees 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths every year from the flu. "The seasons in which H3N2 predominates, those are the seasons we see more severe illness, more hospitalizations".
A total of 282 reported lab cases of the flu were confirmed a year ago in Genesee County and 83 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Orleans County.
'Some of the early assessments of the vaccine from the Australia epidemic in their winter, our summer, suggest about a 10 percent vaccine efficacy which would then mean it was 10 percent effective in preventing the disease'.
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Each year since 2010, the flu virus has caused between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses in the USA, the CDC said.
This possibility underscores the need to strive toward a "universal" influenza vaccine that will protect against seasonal influenza drift variants as well as potential pandemic strains, with better durability than current annual vaccines.
Most adults are infectious one day before they have symptoms until five-to-seven days after becoming ill, according to the Flathead City-County Health Department.
Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control, said the federal agency will be releasing later this week the season's first set of data on what the expected vaccine effectiveness is in the United States and what early-season flu vaccination coverage looks like. "That's why we take the flu very seriously".
"We're seeing earlier cases, and the predominant strain is H3N2, which is different from prior seasons", he adds.
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Nevertheless, the state is urging everyone to get a flu shot.
"So given that, particularly for the H3N2 component, the vaccine effectiveness we're anticipating will be low", predicted Skowronski.
Last year's flu vaccine was updated to include the new version of this protein, but the egg-grown version had acquired a new mutation.
No doubt, the flu vaccine has saved millions and millions of lives over the last 80 years, but it's still a bit of a crap-shoot year to year.
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