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CDC Warns Influenza Vaccine May Be Ineffective Against Mutating Flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Thursday that this year’s flu season may be more severe than usual due to mutations and an especially virulent flu strain found to be prevalent after the influenza vaccination for the year began production.

After examining about 1,000 flu virus samples, CDC officials said the H3N2 virus was the most common flu strain. This virulent strain of influenza was predominant during three of the last 10 years with the highest influenza mortality rate, ABC News reported.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Dr. Tom Frieden” author_title=”CDC Director”]

It’s too early to say for sure that this will be a severe flu season, but Americans should be prepared. We can save lives with a three-pronged effort to fight the flu: vaccination, prompt treatment for people at high risk of complications, and preventative health measures, such as staying home when you’re sick, to reduce flu spread.


The CDC warned that some virus strained mutated slightly after the flu vaccine was manufactured. The vaccination prepared for the 2014/2015 flu season offers 50% protection against the H3N2 strain, which is the cause of most flu cases right now.

Nearly 90% of the flu strains circulating in late November that the CDC analyzed were the severe Type A strains. Half of those had mutated and no longer matched the H3N2 strain in the vaccine, which also contains two or three other strains of the influenza virus, the Boston Globe reported.

Children affected with H3N2 typically have worse flu symptoms than other strains, including a higher fever.

The CDC issued an advisory to doctors to be vigilant in treating flu symptoms in high-risk patients including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with a compromised immune system, asthma or heart disease. These groups are the most likely to die of flu complications and should be prescribed antiviral drugs.

There are currently two FDA-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended by the CDC this year: Relenxa, available as a spray, and Tamiflu, available as a liquid or pill.

The CDC still recommends individuals get a flu vaccination, as the cross-protection can still reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms. The CDC recommends everyone at least six months old get a flu vaccination this year, NBC News reported.

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