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Flu hitting seniors hard this year

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(KYTX) - The flu is hitting senior citizens hard this year. The Centers for Disease Control announced the flu shot has not been as effective this time around, especially for the elderly.

In fact, the CDC says the shot was only 9% effective in protecting people 65 and older.

Dr. Clark Hampe with East Texas Medical Center says the problem is we're playing a "cat and mouse" game with the flu virus. He says scientists change the shot as the virus changes every year, but we never really catch up.

So, some years the shot is less effective than other years. And, that's not good for the elderly, who already have weakened immune systems.

86 year old Charlene Pearce lives at Prestige Estates Assisted Living and Memory Care in Tyler. She says everyone living there gets flu shots when October rolls around, but something unusual happened to her this year.

"I thought I got a good one. And, I'm sure I did, but it didn't work on me."

Pearce says she got the flu anyway.

"I couldn't talk. I couldn't hardly breathe. You know, I was just very sick.

And she isn't alone.

The CDC says about twice as many elderly people have been hospitalized with flu symptoms than in recent years.

"It wasn't as strong this year or something." says Pearce. "There had to be something wrong because I've never been sick after the flu shot,"

Dr. Hamper says researchers see a major change in the virus every three years.

"Consequently, the flu vaccine might not always be quite as effective."

And the CDC says that's the case this year. But, it's still better than no protection at all..

"With some protection. They oftentimes may get the influenza, but they won't end up in the hospital."

"I am a strong believer in the flu shot."

89-year-old Doris Parker is a former nurse. She says she feels fortunate it's kept her healthy once again.

"It works for me. So therefore, I still believe in it every year- getting the flu shot."

As for Pearce...

I'm fine now. I tell them I'm 'fine as a fiddle.'"

She just hopes next year's batch is a little more effective.

The CDC says shot was about 56% effective for adults and children

Dr. Hampe says it wouldn't hurt if seniors got a booster shot to help them make it through the rest of flu season.

The CDC says flu activity is still high across the United States

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