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      It’s the time of year when millions of American’s are getting vaccinated to prevent the flu from ruining the holiday season. This year, there could be a catch.
      "Currently, there are four strands that are circulating in the United States. There’s a mutated Influenza A H3N2 and that’s the one that is creating some concern. The vaccine is effective for three of them. The one that it is less effective for right now is the mutated H3N2 virus," said local epidemiologist Dan Walker.
      "The vaccine may work less well against the flu virus this year compared to previous years," added Dr. Joe Bresee with the CDC.
       The new strain could leave the elderly and the very young vulnerable, that’s why health officials are asking doctors to prescribe more anti-virals to those groups.
       "They will make the disease shorter and you will be less likely to be hospitalized or die," added Bresee.
        Health officials caution that these drugs are not a substitute for vaccinations.
       "H3N2 composes 90 percent of the influenza viruses that are circulating. Half of this 90 percent has mutated, so that’s what this vaccine is less effective at preventing. There is belief that even though it is not completely effective it can still decrease the chances of hospitalization and death," said Walker.
       Those who have already gotten the vaccine don’t seem too worried about the contracting the mutated flu strain.
       "You can always get sick from anything. There are so many things out there you can get sick from. If this protects you from a little bit of it, then why not get it."
        "That’s a little discouraging but I guess if it knocks out part of it that’s good too," said Sonja Walker.
        "Every flu season is unpredictable, and the best way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot, and if someone is concerned about contracting influenza like I said we strongly recommend they receive their flu vaccine," added Walker.
        The flu vaccine generally takes about 4 months to produce. This year the CDC says there wasn’t enough time to produce a vaccine to combat the new strain. The flu vaccine is usually 50 to 70 percent effective each year.

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