Is this year's flu vaccine effective? Not everyone is convinced

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While public health officials are urging everyone to get the flu vaccine, some members of the healthcare community are debating the effectiveness of this year's shot, according to NBC Montana.

This year, the flu is starting early and spreading a number of different strains, the CDC warns, but the flu shot only defends against one of those variants. Additionally, some patients are concerned with the shot's potential negative side effects.

However, getting the vaccine is the best way to not only protect yourself but keep the virus from infecting those who may not survive it, according to some public health officials.

"That helps with individuals who can't get the vaccine, like babies under six months of age and older people or people with allergies.  If they can't be vaccinated the best thing to do is to is for all of us to get vaccinated.  So, therefore, we are protecting them," Pam Whitney, RN, a nurse at the Missoula (Mont.) City-County Health Department, told NBC Montana.

Naturopathic physician Jamison Starbuck believes people should take additional steps to prevent themselves from illness this flu season, besides just receiving the flu shot.

"[R]ather than just going and getting the flu shot and thinking 'Well OK, that took care of everything and now I can just go and do what I want to do,' I think it's wiser to understand that we are moving into a season of a lot more exposure to illness, and we do things to make our bodies healthy and strong," she told NBC Montana.   

Even if the flu shot may not protect against all strains of the virus, the CDC still recommends getting the shot, which will cover a person for a full year.

Editor's note: This article was updated Nov. 2 at 12:50 p.m. A previous version of this article insinuated some health experts believed the flu vaccine was not effective. The revised article clarifies these opinions are attributable to a naturopathic physician cited in NBC's coverage.

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