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Latest H3N2 vaccine ineffective for people over 65

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KALISPELL, Mont. - According to a report from U.S. health officials Wednesday this year's influenza vaccine was ineffective for people 65 years and older.

The report surveyed five states across the country. It says the vaccine for the dominant strain of flu, Type A H3N2, worked just 43 percent of the time in all age groups. That's lower than the 10-year average of 47 percent.

Flathead County Health Department's Joe Russell said you didn't have to look far to see that was the case.

"That kind of plays out somewhat anecdotally to what we were seeing in the Flathead," Russell said. "We had a lot of hospitalization rates."

In 2016-2017 Flathead County saw 1,044 cases of influenza. In 2015-2016 there were 596 cases.

That was the case all across the state, where there were 7,861 cases of influenza and 813 hospitalizations in 2016-2017, compared to 4,734 cases and 433 hospitalizations in 2015-2016.

It leaves some wondering if the flu shot is worth it.

"I've just heard good and bad," Kalispell resident Ashton Wood said. "People get sick after they get it, and so I just felt like I would rather just not deal with it."

Russell says that attitude is what keeps society under the weather. "What we found is the efficacy drops as you're older, but it's really high in young people. Who generally makes grandma and grandpa sick? Well, it's the grandchildren," he said.?

Scientists say they will look at the study to see how the vaccine might be changed, but with the season starting in October no one's sure whether those changes can come in time.

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