Latest flu vaccine protects against 2 new strains

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - Are you protected against this year's flu virus?

Last year was one of the mildest flu seasons on record, but health experts are urging people to not get complacent.

Flu cases usually start to pop up in October and November then peak in January or February, so there's no better time than now to get that flu shot.

Since last year was unusually mild, health officials with the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services are urging people that complacency could lead to serious illness.

"Every year healthy children die from the flu. Every year pregnant women get the flu and are hospitalized and it can have very serious consequences for themselves and their unborn child," said Dr. Melanie Mouzoon, with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

According to Dr. Mouzoon, the latest flu vaccine available includes protection against two new strains.

"The biggest thing is there's a new strain of H3N2, not the pig variant, but a new strain of the H3N2 which tends to be the more severe type of influenza A," Dr. Mouzoon said.

The CDC reported in 2011 just over half of American children, and less than 40 percent of adults, were immunized.

While many adults just don't take the time to get the shot, others fall on the old wives tale that the flu shot may cause the flu.

"It's impossible to do that, it's a killed virus," said Dr. Mouzoon.

There are several vaccination options available including the traditional flu shot.

There's also the intradermal shot which is a much smaller needle that only goes skin deep, rather than into the muscle.

The high dose shot is available for those 65 and older.

Another option is flu mist. Flu mist is the live virus nasal spray for healthy people ages 2 to 49.

Flu symptoms are very similar to the common cold so it can be hard to tell the difference. However, the flu is much worse than a cold. The fever, body aches, fatigue and dry cough are more intense.

Your best prevention against flu is the vaccine.

As we head into the season, remember to practice good hygiene and wash hands frequently.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.