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This year’s flu vaccine is only about 60 percent effective overall, according to the latest research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, don’t let the effectiveness rate dissuade you. The flu virus is still circulating widely (see map above), and it’s predominantly H1N1, the same potentially deadly bug that caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009.
“Influenza can make anyone very sick very fast, and it can kill,” said Tom Frieden, M.D., director of the CDC. “Vaccination every season is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself.”
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine, including pregnant women and others who are at higher risk of serious complications. It’s not too late. Flu season is likely to continue for several more weeks, especially in the West and Northeast, where infections are still widespread, according to the current issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among the report's three key findings:
Public-health officials hope next season’s flu vaccine will work better. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will decide this week which flu strains to include in it. CDC officials said they highly recommend people get vaccinated against influenza every single year, even if the formulation remains the same. Like any vaccine, the duration of protection can wear off, just as the shots you got as a child for diseases such as tetanus and diphtheria don’t last a lifetime.