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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that of all influenza A (H3) viruses evaluated from across the country, nearly 97% matched the influenza A (H3) strain found in this year's vaccines. For influenza B, the vaccine's effectiveness was 73 percent. That amounts to overall protection of 48%, the CDC said. Last week, the first pediatric flu death was reported in Texas. "This is one of the most severe flu seasons in the state since 2000".

Most of the flu sufferers this year have contracted H3N2, a strain of the virus known to be particularly hard on the elderly. That occurred during the 2012-2013 season. Those at high risk include children under the age of 5, adults 65 years or older, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions such as asthma, heart or lung diseases, or a weakened immune system. Fifty-one of 54 USA states and territories are experiencing elevated levels of flu and flu-like illnesses.

So far, the flu has been tied to at least 20 deaths, seven of them just reported during the week of January 31 to February 4.

"About half the people that get the vaccine are going to be covered for the strain of influenza that is spreading around", Dr. Bowman said.

"Influenza activity may have peaked where there were early peaks in the Northwest and on the West Coast", said Flannery. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments.

The flu shot is an inactivated influenza vaccine. To do so, they consider which pathogens could be the biggest problems for the particular season.

A team from the University of Rochester in NY is now exploring how they can make live-attenuated influenza vaccines for dogs.

Much like their human brothers and sisters, dogs can catch the influenza virus and spread it to their furry friends. We're right in the high season of it. "It seems like it's similar to the 2012-2013 season, which was a season with millions of cases and about 60,000 hospitalizations and 2,000 deaths".

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"Is it a flawless vaccine? You won't have to be admitted to the hospital, you won't have to go to the ICU, and you won't die".

'So half a loaf is better than none. "In the meantime, we support the people who are working in laboratories to make an even better influenza vaccine, which we hope will be available a few years down the road".

'Still, we can do a lot of good with a pretty good vaccine available today'.

"We've not had too many of our students hospitalized this year", Clay said.

"If you haven't gotten vaccinated and you haven't gotten sick yet, run - do not walk - this afternoon".

Clay said that it's important for students to get a flu shot to protect themselves.

As Kightlinger put it, "if you are feeling sick, stay home". "It shortens the duration of the influenza and it also makes it less likely you will spread that virus to the people around you".

Veterinarian Cynda Crawford, who helped discover the strain, said the H3N8 canine influenza virus took off from an equine strain that has been infecting horses since the 1960s.


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