Officials: Flu shot less effective this season, but is still recommended

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Experiencing flu-like symptoms, 20-year-old Harry Wiggins is seeing a doctor.

The Southeastern University track star is sidelined with sore throat, chest congestion and a fever.

"I've actually had to take the past three days off so it's really messing with my training schedule.

I've got track meets coming up and just really need to get well," said Wiggins, a patient Tuesday at Urgent Care & Family Medicine on Jones Creek Rd.

Wiggins is one of many patients you can find in clinics across Baton Rouge, but this round of the flu seems to be hitting the youngest the hardest.

Local pediatricians are treating more of one of the most vulnerable groups to the flu- young children.

"This flu season has actually been a bit busier than the last couple of years that we've seen for pediatrics. We're seeing kids that are coming in with four and five days of high fever, body aches, sore throat, running nose, and cough," said Dr. Michelle Flechas, a pediatrician with Our Lady of The Lake Physician Group.

Around the country, the CDC says 21 children have died this flu season. Experts say cases are so severe because the virus is always changing, rendering vaccines less effective for many patients.

Many people who have received a flu shot are still getting sick.

"This year is more severe than the last year because maybe the viruses have mutated. They look different so the medications may not be working as good," said Dr. Saiyid R. Wahid, medical director at Urgent Care & Family Medicine.

Dr. Frank Welch with the Department of Health & Hospitals says Louisiana led the nation in flu cases six-weeks-ago.

"Usually when that happens you'd expect to see a decline after a while in Louisiana because lots of people have had the flu. We've have not seen that though. It's still bad and we expect it to stay this bad or get a little worse," said Dr. Frank Welch, medical director with the state immunization program.

Dr. Welch still recommends getting a flu shot because it provides partial protection, a difference in being sick a couple of days versus a couple of weeks.

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