JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This flu season could be a bad one according to the CDC . It says this year's flu vaccine is not as effective because the current strain of the virus has mutated.
Doctors are worried we could have a season that is more severe than most with more hospitalizations and more deaths because of this.
The most important thing a local doctor wants you to know is it's still recommended that you get a flu shot because it can protect you from the strains of flu that aren't mutated. And just like you should always do, he said having healthy hygiene is crucial in protecting yourself.
"Every once in a while we get it wrong, the flu strain mutates and the strains in the flu shot aren't as effective so that's kind of what happened this time," said Dr. Wesley Mills of St. Vincent's Primary Care.
The CDC issued an advisory that said 52% of the 85 influenza virus samples collected and analyzed from October 1 through November 22 were different than the virus strains included in this year's vaccine, which means the strain mutated, or drifted.
Mills recommends that you still get a flu shot this season.
"Your body has formed those antibodies so it still is going to help fight off some flu some viruses, but it may not be as effective as its always been," said Mills.
The mutated strain is called H3N2 and Mills said doctors believe it came from overseas. He said he doesn't think this will cause the flu season to last any longer, but more people could get the flu than an average flu season.
"It may last until March or April so that's why people still need to get the flu shot if they haven't, especially if you are around elderly or a young kids, especially a kid under 6 months, because they're unable to get the vaccine," said Mills.
Mills said it takes around four months for a panel of doctors to determine which strains will be most prevalent and put together the next flu shot. He expects next year's panel to begin work on next year's flu shot at the beginning of 2015, and said they will keep in mind what happened this year.