HealthDay News — This season’s influenza vaccine reduces the risk of needing medical care because of the flu by only 23%, according to research published in the Jan. 16 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Most years, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine ranges from 10% to 60%, reported the agency. This year’s vaccine is most effective, at 26%, for children aged 6 months through 17 years. Older patients get less benefit, with the vaccine being only 12% effective for patients aged 18 to 49 years and 14% for those aged 50 years or older.

Despite the reduced effectiveness of this season’s flu vaccine, the CDC reported that vaccination is still important. But providers should also encourage alternative treatment and prevention methods to patients including respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, staying home from work or school when ill, staying away from people who are ill, and hand washing.

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The CDC suggested that providers use antiviral medications as an adjunct to vaccination. Officials also recommend that all hospitalized or outpatient patients at high-risk for serious complications from the flu should be treated as soon as possible with a neuraminidase inhibitor medication if influenza is suspected.