National experts say flu shot may be less effective this year

National experts say flu shot may be less effective this year. (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WRGT/WKEF) -- An alert for people getting the flu shot, there is fear it may not be as effective as years past. Reports said the vaccine is doing little to help people in other parts of the world, and those strains may be heading our way.

In the Miami Valley, PriMed Physicians have given 20,500 flu shots so far this year. Doctor Thomas Hirt is one of the doctors administering them.

“We are predicting a bad flu season this year,” Dr. Hirt said.

He is not alone. The New England Journal of Medicine says Australians have seen a record high number of outbreaks.

“How contagious they are, if they are bad there, they are going to be bad here as well,” Dr. Hirt described.

He says the virus strains can migrate.

“When it's winter there it's summer here and vice versa. It tends to hit in the winter,” Dr. Hirt said.

The Australian winter gives a glimpse to the future in the United States. To date, the flu vaccine is providing little relief down under. Journal experts reporting a 10% effectiveness.

“Research is done throughout the world to determine what the most prevalent type of flu strain is going to be in the coming year,” said Dan Suffeletto with Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County. He adds that it’s not an exact science, “What happened in Australia may not necessarily happen in the United States.”

“The data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so far suggests that it's actually a good match this year,” Dr. Hirt said.

While it's not a perfect test. The recommendation from Dr. Hirt and Public Health is that everyone gets one if he or she is older than six months old. Even if you catch the flu, the vaccine can hinder or slow the effects of the illness. There is no chance to catch the flu from a vaccine, however it can take two weeks to become effective. In the meantime, Dr. Hirt has some suggestions to keep yourself safe.

“Hand washing can prevent the spread of disease,” Dr. Hirt said while adding that, “The flu virus can survive on a door knob for several hours after someone touches it.”

Like all aspects of the flu, it's about preparation, preparation, preparation.

Public Health said flu hospitalization numbers are low right now in Montgomery County, but Dr. Hirt told FOX45 that the season is coming earlier than usual.

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