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Flu Vaccine Should Be More Effective: CDC
Date:9/24/2008

And officials are urging more Americans than ever before to get a shot this season

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- With flu season fast approaching, U.S. health officials predicted Wednesday that this year's vaccine will be a better match for the circulating influenza strains than last year's vaccine proved to be.

Not only do officials believe this year's vaccine will be more effective, they're saying that supplies will be plentiful, too. So, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that more Americans than ever be vaccinated against the flu, including every child age 6 months to 18 years of age, unless they have a serious egg allergy.

"Flu viruses are constantly changing, and that's why we have to update the vaccine every year," Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, deputy director of the CDC's Influenza Division, said during a morning teleconference Wednesday.

The new vaccine contains three new flu strains -- two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain.

"These are the three flu strains that research indicates are the most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season," Jernigan said. "Our challenge is to choose three viruses to put in the vaccine several months ahead of when the virus starts to circulate. We are optimistic that this year's vaccine will be on target in protecting against the flu."

Last year's vaccine was only a partial match to the circulating flu strains, with two of the three vaccine components proving ineffective, Jernigan said.

This year, the CDC is recommending that more people than ever get a flu shot. And, for the first time, the agency is recommending that all children aged 6 months to 18 years get vaccinated.

"This is an extension of the previous recommendation to vaccinate children up to 2 years of age and those with underlying medical conditions," CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding said during the telecon
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