Vaccine not protecting everyone from flu

January 11, 2013 9:30:53 AM PST
If it seems like people are dropping with the flu, even people who got the flu shot, you're right.

We've learned a number of people in Houston who got the flu vaccine are still getting sick from the flu, so we set out to find out why.

Maria Dungler is getting over the flu.

"At first, I didn't believe it was the flu since I got the flu shot," she said.

The green dot on her MD Anderson ID proves when she got the flu shot. But it didn't keep the graphic artist from flu's misery.

"Horrible sore throat, ears, headaches, body aches everywhere," Dungler said.

"It's gotta be disappointing because they did everything right," said UT Health Dr. Ryan Radecki.

At Memorial Hermann's ER, Dr. Radecki says they're seeing 10-20 people with the flu a day and it's been this way for a couple of months.

"They ache all over and they have fever, they're congested, they have coughs. There are a lot of people who have these same symptoms we see all throughout the day and all throughout the night," he said.

This may come as a surprise. According to the World Health Organization, there's been more flu in the last couple of weeks than in the worst point last year.

At Texas Children's Hospital, 10 children are hospitalized with the flu right now. Baylor flu experts say the vaccine works for about 75 percent of the people who get it. But experts say some people don't respond to the vaccine, and others aren't fully protected.

But there's a little bit of good news.

"Even if you had influenza after vaccination, you would expect you would not become as ill as if you had not been vaccinated," said Dr. Flo Munoz with Texas Children's Hospital.

Dr. Munoz says you're less likely to die, and less likely to go to the hospital.

"You definitely don't want to be in the emergency room with the flu. Get your flu shot," Dr. Radecki said.

"Everybody's down with the same thing, so it seems to be going around everywhere," Dungler said.

Experts from every medical institution told us the same thing: Get the flu shot or the nasal vaccine because it may be a very, long flu season. And for three out of four people, they say it is going to work.

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