Flu shot keeps kids protected from serious illness — even when the viruses are different, CDC says

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The flu shot protects children from a serious case of the disease — even when the virus that infected them is different from the one in the vaccine, according to a new federal study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the report means it’s even more important to get the influenza vaccine.

“This study highlights that flu can cause serious illness in children, but flu vaccines can be lifesaving.  This is very good news,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said. 

According to the study, vaccination cut the risk of severe flu in children by 78 percent against similar flu A viruses and 47 percent against the ones that had “drifted from the vaccine virus.”

It also was 76 percent effective at preventing a life-threatening case of the disease — which include those that require ventilation, CPR and other severe complications. 

The CDC says it’s even more evidence that while some vaccinated people may still get sick, the shot can decrease the severity of that sickness.

Flu viruses constantly change through a process called antigenic drift — small mutations in the genes of the viruses.

Seasonal flu causes millions of children each year to get sick and sends thousands to hospitals. It can be especially dangerous for those younger than 5 years old because their age leaves them at higher risk of a severe case of the disease.

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