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More Flu Cases This Week In California Than During Last Season’s Peak; New Strain Spreads

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The flu has been spreading quickly in California — and it’s not over yet. A late-season strain is going around, and health officials say people who haven’t been vaccinated should still get a shot.

The flu season is nearing its end, but even now there are more influenza cases in California than there were at the peak of the season last year.

Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis, said that’s because the vaccine didn’t protect well against the influenza A strain that was dominant early in the season.

“If they mutate more and they become less related to previous strains we’ve been exposed to, we have less immunity and that could cause more rapid spread,” he said.

The vaccine does protect against the Influenza B strain. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet there’s still a benefit to getting the flu shot — even if you’ve already gotten the flu, Blumberg said.

“Now, about 45 percent [of cases] are influenza B,” he said. “And children are being affected more than adults.”

Federal health officials decided last week on which influenza strains to include in the vaccine for next season.

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