El Paso

Local expert weighs in on effectiveness of flu vaccine this season

Flu vaccine effectiveness

EL PASO, Texas - The flu season is in full swing, which has families flocking to the get vaccinated, but an ABC News report said medical experts are warning that the vaccine may not be effective this season.

The Southern Hemisphere, particularly Australia, was hit hard with the flu season that is now winding down.

The New England Journal of Medicine cited preliminary information when it reported that the flu vaccine was only 10 percent effective. The flu vaccine in made up of the same compositions as the one used in the U.S.

Researchers said the harsh season in Australia could be a signs of things to come in the Northern Hemisphere.

ABC-7 talked to the lead epidemiologist for the El Paso Department of Public Health, Fernando Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the flu season down under was plagued by a strain called H3N2, which is constantly evolving.

"By the time the vaccine is prepared and applied, it (flu strain) already changed. This produces the vaccine to be less effective for that type of strain, in this case H3N2," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said our best defense against influenza is still the vaccine.

To read the full ABC News report, click here.

The health department is marking National Influenza Vaccination Week by hosting two free clinics for children to get their flu vaccine on Wednesday.

The clinics are open for children up to 18 years of age who are uninsured, a Medicaid recipient, CHIP recipient or who have limited insurance coverage.   

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against influenza; with major emphasis on the high risk groups such as children younger than 5 years of age, children and adults with an underlying medical condition, seniors and pregnant women.

Below are the locations where children can get their free flu shots:

The Immunization Program Health Centers
Ysleta Center, 110 Candelaria Road (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Henderson Center, 721 S. Mesa Both (7 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

For more information call 2-1-1.

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