When a flu shot doesn't stop the flu

By WEEK Producer

January 24, 2014 Updated Jan 25, 2014 at 12:35 AM CDT

MORTON, Ill. -- Dr. Angela Golby is seeing a lot of patients with the flu.
She said it's not that there are more of them than last year, it's that some of their symptoms are more intense.

"Most people have been coming in with a fever of 102 to 104, pretty severe body aches and severe headaches with it," said Golby, who works at the UnityPoint Health Methodist clinic in Morton.

Some of those patients have had flu shots.

"The flu shot this year unfortunately hasn't completely covered people for the flu," explained Golby, "So we've had people come in who have tested positive mostly for influenza-A that did get their flu shot this year."

That is because a flu shot does not protect against all strains of the flu, only the strains most likely to spread.

"Scientists decide what they think are going to be the three or four most common flu strains," said Sara Sparkman of the Tazewell County Health Department. "They look at different trends throughout the world to see where the flu is coming from and what those strains are. They pick those three or four strains, they put them in the flu shot and that's what we receive when we get the flu shots."

Sparkman said this year's national flu outbreak numbers are particularly high among young children.

"There are more cases of the flu in zero to 4 year olds," Sparkman said. "But in Illinois the number of cases is higher in 25 to 49 year olds."

In all, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 191 cases of H1N1 in the state so far this flu season.