Health department recommends Alabamans get flu shots

Seasonal flu shots are recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

'It's good news and underscores the importance and the benefit of both annual and ongoing vaccination efforts this season'.

"What people are working toward and what I hope we will eventually have is a universal vaccine that works for every influenza virus", Lorber said.

While 40 percent to 50 percent effectiveness may not sound like much, when spread across an entire population, the effect is significant, he said.

Therefore, fresh flu vaccine cocktails are needed each year.

Some people are more at risk than others and should be more careful when coming into contact with those who are sick.

The press release says people can ward off the flu by washing their hands, covering coughs and staying home when sick.

US health officials say the flu vaccine seems to be working pretty well this season.

Flu season is in full swing but should calm down around the end of March, beginning of April.

Generally, vaccine effectiveness varies and is not only based on what type of viruses are circulating.

Specifically, the CDC advises early treatment with oseltamivir for anyone at risk for suffering flu complications, a group that includes "65 and older, young children, people with underlying compromising health conditions" and those who are hospitalized, according to Flannery. "You won't have to be admitted to the hospital, you won't have to go to the ICU, and you won't die". That year data suggested the vaccine offered virtually no protection against H3N2 viruses.

Jacqueline Katz, deputy director of the CDC's influenza division, said a theory behind the poor performance of the H3N2 component of the vaccine relates to the way flu vaccine is produced.

'So half a loaf is better than none.

"But for H3N2, it's as good as we have seen for some of the H3N2 seasons that have been well matched". This significant increase brought the number of lab-confirmed cases this flu season to approximately 3,300.

"Whether you think that overall close to 50 percent protection is good or not good depends on whether you're a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty kind of person", said Bennett Lorber, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

  • Aubrey Nash