First 2 flu-related deaths of season in Washoe County

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The Chickasaw Nation and Pontotoc County Health Department are offering flu vaccinations to the public at no cost from 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Chickasaw Nation Community Center, 700 N. Mississippi.

Health-care workers and people whose close contacts have underlying medical conditions have additional impetus to get inoculated against the flu, she said.

No other details have been released.

Siegel added that he worries that "this could be a very severe flu season". That death reported in mid-November involved a child age four or younger.

"This is the time to get a flu shot", said Mills.

Other explanations for Penobscot's numbers include the possibility that there are actually more flu cases in the community or that designated health care providers are being especially avid in reporting their cases.

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There are now specially-designed flu vaccines for seniors, meant to protect older people who face an increased risk from influenza.

Still, McGeer said there's good evidence accumulated over time that getting the flu shot every year "is a safer and healthier thing to do for myself and better for my patients and my family".

Flannery explained that the journal article looked at Australia's most recent flu season and highlights the low vaccine effectiveness against one type of influenza: the H3N2 strain predominating in the United States today.

The biggest drop in flu shot rates was seen among Hispanic adults (down 7.7 percent from last year). "So if you need to be out and about running errands and meeting up with friends and family, it's wise to protect yourself-and them-as best you can". Last year's flu vaccine effectiveness was just 42%, the CDC estimated this year, while preliminary estimates published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that this year's vaccine may be just 10% effective.

Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said lab testing in Ontario is turning up "quite a lot of B isolates, almost as many Bs as H3N2".

"The effectiveness changes from year to year", says Spicer. The article's authors also noted that "the vaccine prevented about a third of all illness by all of the types of flu", Flannery said.

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