Flu epidemic: Who's at most-risk, why some researchers worry about vaccine effectiveness
Sinclair Broadcast Group--The nation continues to battle a flu epidemic that has claimed the lives of 37 children so far this season and doctors say we still have not hit the peak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 41.9 of every 100,000 people are being hospitalized. Influenza A (H3N2) and influenza B have been responsible for the deaths, though 65% of all flu deaths can be subtyped as H1N1, otherwise known as swine flu.
While the CDC and state health officials continue to urge residents it's not too late to get vaccinated, a new study from researchers in Canada says the vaccine has only been about 17 percent effective against the H3N2 strain in the country, half of what it was last flu season.
The same goes for a study in Australia which finds vaccine effectiveness has only been around 10 percent. Researchers say the issue in both studies could be because in the U.S., most-influenza vaccine viruses are propagated in eggs. Researchers believe small adaptations made by the virus in the host eggs could be leading to less effectiveness this season.
The CDC says getting the vaccine in the U.S. will still offer better protection than not getting it at all.
So who's at most-risk?
The CDC says children under 5 but especially children under 2-years-old are most at-risk. Also, adults 65-years-old and older, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes, and American Indians/Alaskan natives are considered high risk.
People with medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, blood disorders, lung disease, kidney disorders, and liver disorders are also at-risk. Even those with a body mass index of 40 or more (extreme obesity) can be at increased risk.
Doctors recommend keeping ill children at home, washing hands frequently, and getting vaccinated to avoid the virus.
A full breakdown from the CDC on those at most-risk and precautions to take can be found HERE.