Health officials say flu shot remains best defense

Thursday, February 15, 2018 05:01PM
After so much back-and-forth over the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control has now released its findings, and the estimates come as no surprise to experts who have been tracking the season.


SAN JOSE, Calif. - After so much back-and-forth over the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control has now released its findings, and the estimates come as no surprise to experts who have been tracking the season.

The CDC says getting the flu shot will help reduce your risk of catching the disease by one-third. However, the vaccine is only 35 percent effective against this season's most dominant strain: H3N2.

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Despite these numbers, officials are urging the public to get vaccinated if they haven't already done so.

"The flu shot helps prime the immune system, and gives it the tools it needs to fight the disease if you get it," says Dr. Alexei Wagner, assistant director of adult emergency medicine at Stanford Hospital.

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Wagner told ABC7 News there's been a decrease in the number of patients with flu-like symptoms admitted to Stanford over the past month. Those who get the flu shot tend to recover much quicker.

"It may not be perfect in preventing the disease, but it certainly reduces the risk of death if you were to get it," said Wagner.

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San Jose's Santa Clara Valley Medical Center has also seen a steady decline in cases week-to-week since the first of the year. However, the flu season will likely continue for another one to three months, according to experts. Earlier this week, another flu-related death was reported to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, bringing the total count to seven people, under the age of 65, since the season began.

Many groups, including the San Jose Unified School District, are taking the flu threat seriously.

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"At night, our custodians and our operations people are diligently going school-to-school to clean classrooms where children have influenza symptoms," says SJUSD Chief Nurse Melinda Landau.

State public health officials will release an update on the number of flu-related deaths on Friday.

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