As severe flu season continues, flu shots getting harder to find

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Most insurance plans cover flu shots with no copay.

Thorough hand-washing, proper coughing and sneezing etiquette and the flu shot can help reduce the spread of the virus.

"I checked with my colleagues and none of us had ever seen anyone with influenza or any other respiratory viral illness that concurrently had hives associated with the illness", said Dr. Shaffner in an interview with Contagion, noting the case was perhaps just an unusual coincidence.

In North Carolina, there have been 140 flu-related deaths, with 108 of them occurring in the last few weeks.

"Levels of influenza-like-illness across the country are now as high as we observed at the peak of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic". Last week, 52 percent of reported outbreaks in the state of Florida were in daycare (17 percent) or school (35 percent) settings. Some officials believe that the number of deaths and illnesses that have been seen this year is more than what is typically seen when there is a brand new virus that spreads.

Patsy Malas, Campus Nurse, says the most important thing to know is that the flu is most contagious during the 24 hours after all symptoms have cleared.

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The agency total means that 15 more deaths in the state were confirmed during the week of January 28 through February 3, the latest for which figures are available.

"We have to target the right strains, and even when we get it right, it's not always effective". "The vaccine can't take into account evolution of the virus, and that seems to be what happened with this year's strain is that it evolved past the point of the vaccine being able to protect from it".

The new study, done by researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared yesterday in an early online edition of Pediatrics.

Despite this, it's still recommended that people get the flu shot, if only to prevent them from getting the flu a second time after coming down with a case of the H3N2 virus, Schuchat said. During the current flu season, H3N2 viruses have been most common. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, told HealthDay. "With kids, its about 50% have some other condition, usually asthma, neurological disease, or obesity".

There are a number of ways people can protect themselves and others.

Speaking on Monday after a meeting of the department's scientific committee on vaccine-preventable diseases, Centre for Health Protection controller Dr Wong Ka-hing said the panel had agreed that doses meant for the southern hemisphere could be used to address the city's shortage.

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