COPY-Flu shot may not offer complete protection from all strains

By Lindsay English

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Health experts say the flu season is moving into full swing and that flu vaccine you received may not fully protect you from this year's flu virus strains. WAVE 3's Lindsay English has the details on what you can do about that.

Across the country, the flu is keeping people at home and in bed. The Centers for Disease Control says there is widespread flu activity in 44 states, including Kentucky and Indiana. That's up from 31 last week.

"It's about as bad as it gets because all states are reporting widespread disease, all in the same week," says Dr. Joe Bresee with the CDC.

Kentucky is no exception.

"It's been very busy. Late, but very busy flu season," says Dr. Russell Bird with Baptist Urgent Care in Middletown.

Dr. Bird says he's seen a steady stream of patients with the flu come through the doors.

"This time of year we see a lot of people normally. This month we've seen many, many more," Dr. Bird says.

Part of the reason is that this year's flu vaccine isn't nearly as effective against this year's flu virus strains.

"The current flu vaccine protects 40% of the flu virus out there but 60% still has no protection with the flu vaccine," says Dr. Bird.

He says the scientists that create the vaccine simply didn't create a good match this time around against the ever-changing virus.

According to Dr. Bird, "They determine, they sort of guess, through scientific estimates what the best flu vaccine strain they should make. This year they were wrong for about 60% of it."

Still he says that's no reason not to get a flu shot.

"The flu vaccine will still prevent a good chunk of the flu that's out there and even if it's not 100% effective against some of the strains out there you'll still get some protection," says Dr. Bird.

He says of the few patients that he's seen have tested positive for the flu, even though they did get a flu shot. However, he says they did have milder symptoms, compared to those who didn't get vaccinated.

Online Reporter:  Lindsay English

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway