Doctors: Get The Flu Shot, Anyway

(CBS) — This year’s flu season is adding up to be one of the worst in recent years, and the flu vaccine may only be about 10 percent effective.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, doctors are urging us to still take precautions and get vaccinated.

Just steps away from brightly colored flu medications, Pedro Eraso is standing in line at a downtown pharmacy for a flu vaccine. Memories of previous bouts with influenza brought him here.

“It was horrible, totally disabling, so I would prefer not to be in that situation again,” the Humboldt Park resident says.

Experts say this year’s flu vaccine may only be 10 percent effective against the strain currently circulating.

The Centers for Disease Control reports Illinois and 35 other states are already registering widespread cases of influenza; this time last year, only eight states had reached that mark.

“It’s suspected we are going to see about double what we normally do,” Dr. Michele Bailey of Rush University Health Systems says.

Rush is already reporting some notable numbers.

In December of 2017 they registered 70 cases of influenza; in December of 2016 that number was only 12.

“A lot of people are not getting vaccinated,” Bailey says.

The U.S. looks to data from Australia, which goes through the flu season a few months before us, when determining the annual vaccine. Though this year’s version may not be as effective as usual, doctors remind us vaccinations still minimize the flu’s symptoms and help prevent its spread.

“You are not only protecting yourself, but you are protecting those around you,” Bailey says.

Just for some perspective, Australia reported a major increase in cases of the flu, but doctors say that country tends to have lower overall vaccination rates than in the U.S.