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Some Still Getting Sick Despite Getting Flu Vaccine

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The flu vaccine is designed to protect against the most commonly circulating strains of the virus expected in a given season.

For instance, this year's protects against two types of Influenza A -- one from California and one from Australia -- and a type of Influenza B originating from Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and doctors at St. Clair Hospital have been seeing cases of the flu.

"Probably 10 patients a day at least and those are confirmed with viral swabs," says ER physician Dr. Wayne Ludkiewicz, "and some people have said they've even gotten a flu shot."

Circulating flu viruses and the vaccine change every year. And because there are so many strains of the flu, it would be hard to design a vaccine to cover them all.

The vaccines work by priming your immune system to fight off specific proteins on the surface of specific viruses.

"I mean, nothing is 100 percent. Even though they've had the flu shot, there are various strains that are not protected," says Dr. Ludkiewicz.

The Allegheny County Health Department says it has not received reports of flu cases from strains not covered by this year's vaccine.

In general, the flu shot is about 60 percent effective in adults ages 18 to 64.

"I think with the holidays and families getting together, sharing their germs and food and love and presence, I think we'll see a resurgence in a week or two," Dr. Ludkiewicz predicts.

The CDC says this year's vaccine is a 90 percent match to the circulating strains. In other words, 10 percent of what's out there is not a match.

More Reports from Dr. Maria Simbra
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