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Flu vaccine guards against new strains

Published: Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 11:41 a.m. CDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Time to get your flu vaccine.

Last year’s flu shot won’t shield you this year: Two new strains of influenza have begun circling the globe, and the updated vaccine appears to work well against them, government officials said Thursday.

Flu specialists can’t say how bad this winter’s flu season might be. Influenza strains constantly evolve, and some cause more illness than others.

But strains from the H3N2 family tend to be harsher than some other flu types, and a new H3N2 strain is included in this year’s vaccine because it is circulating in parts of the world.

Only one ingredient in this year’s flu vaccine was retained from last year’s, protection against the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic and has been the main kind of influenza circulating since. Also new in this year’s shot is protection against a different Type B strain.

Manufacturers are expected to make about 135 million doses of flu vaccine this year, and there are four different forms to choose from: the traditional flu shot for all ages and people with high-risk health conditions; FluMist, the squirt-up-the-nose version; a high-dose shot; and the intradermal shot.

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