CDC officials to address flu vaccine's effectiveness

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to address the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine.

Local officials have said the vaccine is only 30 percent effective, but officials in Canada have said it might be only 10 to 20 percent effective there.

The flu outbreak has everyone on alert now, as new numbers out Thursday show the illness is spreading.

State health officials report 38 more people died from the flu in South Carolina last week, while 20 more people died in North Carolina.

[Alarming number of flu deaths has local daycare taking precautions]

The Department of Health and Control said 84 people have now died from the flu outbreak in South Carolina this season. In North Carolina, the total is now 95, and health officials confirm three of those deaths have been in Gaston County.


DHEC said about 600 people were hospitalized with the flu in South Carolina between Jan. 21 and Jan. 27. The agency said the number of flu cases in the state increased by 25 percent from the previous week.

Nearly 60,000 people have been diagnosed with flu since October.

Officials said the problem with this strain of flu is that it mutates so even if people got a shot, they can still get it.

A state epidemiologist said the best way to beat the flu is to get treatment in the first 48 hours.

That might be a problem for some people though. Pharmacist Don Thrower at the Medical Center Pharmacy in Gastonia told Channel 9 his supplier has run out of Tamiflu, the most popular treatment for the flu.

"Right now, my wholesaler, I checked this morning, they are completely out," Thrower said.

About two weeks ago, the pharmacy saw a big run on flu medication.

You don't have to explain the threat to the parents of Summer Davis, who was wearing a surgical mask and shivering when Channel 9 spoke with her and her parents Thursday.

"I can't describe it. Your bones start hurting," Summer said. "You don't want it. You just want to stay away from it."

Her parents said Summer has been fighting the flu since Monday.

"The death toll this year has just been terrible,” said Chad Hamrick, Summer’s father. “Keeping her well and getting her better, that’s the main thing."

Chris Dobbins, the director of Gaston County Health and Human Services, said people need to use sanitizer often and avoid close contact. He said despite the problems targeting the flu strain, a shot can help.

"I'd rather have a 10 percent chance at preventing this than a zero percent chance," Dobbins said.

Traditionally, the spread of flu peaks and then drops. It usually reaches its highest point in March, so there is a chance of another surge.

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