This season's flu vaccine isn't a 'loser,' Loyola expert says

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that this season's influenza vaccine may not be effective against one of the more widespread strains of the flu, the vaccine still offers protection from the virus, according to a Loyola University Health System expert.

Jorge Parada, MD, a hospital epidemiologist and medical director of the Maywood, Ill.-based system's infection control program, said, "The current flu shot is not a loser and should not be benched as ineffective. While there was a mismatch due to a mutation in the H3N2 strain, there are actually two H3N2 strains in circulation, complicating the interpretation of the accuracy of the vaccine."

About one-third of the H3N2 viruses currently circulating the nation match the virus covered by the vaccine, according to Dr. Parada, "meaning the vaccine is doing its job," he says. Additionally, the vaccine matches 100 percent of the circulating H1N1 flu strain.

Dr. Parada urged everyone to get a flu shot this year and to also practice good hand hygiene and stay away from people with the flu.

The flu is now widespread in 43 states, Illinois included, according to the CDC. The Loyola University Health System has seen a spike in flu cases at its clinics and hospitals, and it is not alone — one hospital in Indiana even canceled some elective surgeries due to the high number of flu patients in the facility.

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