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VERIFY: Is it too late to get the flu shot? Is this year's vaccine not as effective?

The Verify team is tackling flu facts and misconceptions

WASHINGTON — When it comes to the flu, social media is full of misinformation.

Our Verify team wants to give you the facts around the flu – so you know exactly what’s going on this season. 

For answers, our researchers went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

QUESTION: 

Is the flu widespread already in the United States?

ANSWER:

Yes. Every single state is dealing with a moderate to high levels of flu-like illnesses, except for four: Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, and Delaware.

The CDC estimates that we’ve already had 22 million flu cases this season.

SOURCE: 

CDC Fluview Interactive- A Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report

Credit: CDC
CDC map of Influenza-Like Illness Activity Orange and Red indicate a moderate-high level of activity. Yellow and green indicate a minimal-low level

QUESTION:

Are more people being hospitalized for the flu this season than ever before?

ANSWER:

No. The CDC estimates there have been 210,000 hospitalizations so far, putting the rate of hospitalizations at about 35.5 for every 100,000 people. More people were hospitalized for the flu during the 2014-2015 and 2017-2018 seasons.

SOURCE:

CDC- Past Seasons Estimated Influenza Disease Burden

CDC- laboratory-confirmed Influenza Hospitalizations

QUESTION:

Is the flu vaccine this year not working as well as some are claiming on social media?

ANSWER:

We'll have to wait and see. The CDC releases its data on vaccine effectiveness at the end of the season, so it’s just too early to say for sure.

SOURCES:

CDC Seasonal Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Studies

CDC How Flu Vaccine Effectiveness and Efficacy are Measured

QUESTION: 

Should you still get the flu shot, this late in the season?

ANSWER:

Yes, the CDC says. Not only will it make you less likely to get the flu, but if you get it, it will be less severe.

SOURCES:

CDC- Children and Influenza

CDC- People 65 Years and Older & Influenza

RELATED: VERIFY: How effective is the flu vaccine?

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