CDC Sees Trouble On Flu Front

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Some words of warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Beware the flu. This season might be a bad one, with a severe strain going around, and a less effective vaccine available.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden told The New York Times, "flu is unpredictable, but what we’ve seen thus far is concerning."

That's not to say you shouldn't bother getting a flu shot. But you might need to take other measures too.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, discusses the warning from the CDC and the preventive measures people can take with Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd.

Interview Highlights: Dr. William Schaffner

On what we can learn from flu cases so far

“The wily flu virus has mutated a little bit, and the strain that we call H3N2 is not exactly matched to the vaccine. We think that H3N2 will be a bit of a problem. It’s the most common strain being isolated, and the H3N2 strains are a bit more vicious. They cause a little bit more illness, usually, than the other strains, particularly in older persons. So we are anticipating a kind of bad flu year, I’m afraid. ”

On why the vaccine doesn't match the current strain

“Well we try the best we can each year. We look into our crystal ball and try and anticipate which are going to be the most active flu strains and those are the ones we represent in the vaccine, and you’ve made a good point. There’s more than one strain circulating so the other parts of the vaccine are going to offer us some protection. So if you haven’t been vaccinated, still go ahead and get vaccinated because there’s benefits in the vaccine.”


  • William Schaffner, MD, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

This segment aired on December 5, 2014.



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