Health officials working to make flu shot more effective

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The influenza viruses are constantly drifting and shifting, both between flu seasons and during them. "All it takes is getting influenza once, and you have a whole new appreciation of its health importance". The nasal spray flu vaccine is now a recommended option for influenza vaccination.

Dr. Jasmine Marcelin, an assistant professor in the infectious diseases division at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to provide full protection.

Reed has her family vaccinated in September, ahead of the start of flu season, which usually begins in October in Hampton Roads and Virginia, and peaks between December and February.

Total flu fatalities during the most recent season included the deaths of 180 children, which exceeds the previous record high of 171 during a non-pandemic flu season, according to the CDC.

Fall may have just started, but that doesn't mean it isn't time to start thinking about getting your seasonal influenza vaccine.

"Kids have a lot of snot, they have a lot of drool and they go to school", she said over laughter from the audience.

"That waning of immunity has not been substantial enough to recommend a delay in the kickoff for getting vaccines", he said.

Although there are concerns that adults age 65 and older are more likely to have waning protection over time, research shows antibodies are still present in high levels six months after the shot, and, more importantly, even these lower levels of antibodies help prevent the flu.

Flu vaccines that were not wholly effective exacerbated the problem, but Redfield told AP that he'd still "like to see more people get vaccinated".

To compare with other years in the history of having the flu shot, the flu typically kills about 12,000 Americans in a mild year. That strain tended to send people to the hospital and result in fatalities, particularly among those who are vulnerable, such as young children and the elderly.

The makeup of the vaccine has been changed this year to try to better protect against expected strains. Flu is spread by droplets so it's important to wash hands, and avoiding contact with others who are ill.

Even if a vaccine isn't a flawless match for the year's strains, she said, it's still a good idea to get the shot because the antibodies people produce as a result will protect against the circulating strains and similar ones.