Think getting a flu shot will provide complete protection against the flu? Think again.
During a Jan. 11 press briefing, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this year's influenza vaccine has an overall effectiveness of 62 percent.
"That means that if you got vaccinated, you were about 60 percent less likely to get the flu that required you to go to your doctor," Frieden said, according to a transcript of the briefing.
"So what we have known for a long time is that the flu vaccine is far from perfect. But it's still by far the best tool we have to prevent the flu," he added.
At 62 percent effectiveness, nearly four in 10 people who have been vaccinated will still get the flu if exposed to the virus. CDC officials explained the efficacy of the vaccination is in line with previous years and still, according to the CDC's Dr. Joe Breesee, "is actually a substantial public health benefit for the population."
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Earlier this month, Breesee encouraged those who have not yet been vaccinated to get the flu shot.
"Anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now,” Bresee said in a released statement. “And it’s important to remember that people who have severe influenza illness, or who are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications, should get treated with influenza antiviral medications if they get flu symptoms regardless of whether or not they got vaccinated. Also, you don’t need to wait for a positive laboratory test to start taking antivirals.”
In early December, the CDC warned this year's flu season could be one of the worst and recommended that everyone 6 months and up get an annual flu vaccine.
However, obtaining the vaccine may be increasingly difficult in some areas. Reuters reports that some areas are experiencing shortages of the vaccine.
"We are hearing of spot shortages. Given the time in our flu season, it isn't surprising. People who haven't been vaccinated and want to get the vaccine may have to look in several places for it," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Reuters.
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