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Warnings are being issued from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that this year's influenza virus has mutated, is highly aggressive, and may not be stopped by the current vaccine. Though the flu vaccine will help to prevent against most flu strains, there is a mutated H3N2 variation that is not included in the formula. Officials are urging extra caution and the use of anti-viral medications especially in at risk populations.
Who is most at risk of getting the flu?
The highest risk populations of catching and being significantly affected by this year's strain of influenza include:
- Children younger than 2
- Adults 65 and older, especially in healthcare facilities
- Those affected by chronic disease
- Pregnant women
- The morbidly obese
Why is this flu strain a threat?
The H3N2 mutation seen this year was first identified in March after initial vaccine preparations began. As such, no protection for this strain was included in the development of this year's vaccine. Additionally, the years when this type of strain has been dominant have resulted in increased hospitalizations and related fatalities.
What can I do to protect myself?
Officials still urge that even though the vaccine may not protect against this particular influenza strain, that it is still effective against other variations. This alone should help keep the immune system stronger and offer additional protection. Researchers also indicate that the use of anti-viral medications can be used to reduce the effect of the flu on affected individuals. Other best practices include avoiding affected individuals, staying clear of others if affected, and maintaining proper hygiene and disinfection techniques.