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With Flu Activity High Across Nation, Some Question Vaccine’s Effectiveness

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – With the influenza season arriving early, many are questioning the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

The latest map from Google.org Flu Trends shows flu activity is now high or intense in every state in the country. In Colorado the activity remains at intense.

CBS4’s Alan Gionet talked with Dr. Mark Johnson, the executive director of the Jefferson County Health Department about this year’s vaccine.

“The viral effectiveness is about 62 percent, which means if you get the vaccine you have a 62 percent chance you won’t be getting the illness bad enough that you’ll have to be hospitalized or see a physician,” Johnson said.

“It’s actually in the range that we’ve seen over the last few years. We’ve been in about the 50 to 70 percent range even though it is marked ‘good’ towards the virus that we are seeing it just means that the vaccine is not as strong or is not causing enough protection that you’re not going to have any chance of getting it which is quite common with the influenza vaccine.”

Two children have died in Colorado from flu-related complications. Doctors say people should still get the flu vaccine if they haven’t already.

“It is still the best thing you can do to prevent influenza. It is still protective not only for you but it also helps protect those around you. And it looks like it might even protect you next year. There’s some crossover from influenza vaccines and viruses, so it is a good thing to do even though it’s not 90 percent like many of the immunizations we have.”

The vaccine is available but Johnston says people may need to hunt for it.

“You may have to call around to get the exact kind that you need depending on your age and where you are, but yes, it is available.”

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