Wednesday, November 22, 2017

This year's flu vaccine guards against new strains

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WASHINGTON — Time to get your flu vaccine. And remember: Last year's shot won't shield you this year.

Two new strains of influenza have begun circling the globe, and the updated vaccine appears to work well against them, government officials said Thursday.

Just because last year was the mildest flu season on record doesn't mean the virus might not bounce back to its usual ferocity this winter.

"People cannot become complacent this year," said Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, who received his own flu shot Thursday.

A yearly vaccination is recommended for nearly everybody, but new figures released Thursday show that last year 52 percent of children and just 39 percent of adults were immunized.

Seniors are at especially high risk of severe illness or death if they catch the flu, but just 66 percent of them were immunized, a number that has been slowly dropping for several years.

The only ones who shouldn't get vaccinated: babies younger than 6 months and people with severe allergies to the eggs used to make the vaccine.

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