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Flu Shot Still Good Defense for Seasonal Influenza

(January 7, 2015 - Carroll Township, Pa.)

The flu season, which typically peaks in March in Western Pennsylvania, is hitting this region particularly hard right now. Influenza A (H3N2) viruses are the most common so far. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, H3N2-predominant seasons have been associated with more severe illness and mortality, especially in older people and young children, relative to seasons during which H1N1 or B viruses predominated. There are early indications that this season may be severe, especially for people aged 65 years and older and young children.

According to Mary Lou Murt, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Monongahela Valley Hospital, the flu vaccine is still one of the best defenses against contracting the virus. "People who get the flu vaccine reduce their chances of becoming ill with the virus by 40 percent," she said. "In addition, we are finding that those who received the vaccine who still contract the virus experience less severe symptoms."

In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, people are encouraged to take everyday preventive actions such as staying away from sick people and washing their hands to reduce the spread of germs. It is important for those who are sick with the flu to stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Mrs. Murt cautioned that the flu will still be around for months. Despite the new H3N2 strain, the vaccine has been well matched in roughly a third of the flu cases seen so far. And it is considered to be effective against some other flu viruses that could surge in the late winter or spring.

For those who have not received their flu vaccine yet, Healthy Directions inside the Finleyville Giant Eagle still has an ample supply. Flu shots are available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 724-348-6699

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