(HealthDay News) — Fewer than half of Americans have gotten a flu vaccine so far this flu season, which might be a bad sign for a season that could be potentially severe, according to a December 11 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only 39.7% of adults and 42% of children had received flu vaccination through mid-November, according to a telephone survey conducted by the CDC. Those numbers are comparable with vaccination rates last year at this time, the CDC reported.

Health care workers may face an uphill battle promoting the flu vaccine, however, since word is spreading that this year’s vaccine is only partially effective. The CDC warned last week that a strain of influenza called H3N2 appears to be circulating most widely early this season, and that about half of the H3N2 viruses detected by researchers so far appear to have mutated. The mutation means that this year’s flu vaccine will likely provide only partial protection against H3N2.

Infectious-disease doctors and CDC officials are urging people to get their flu vaccine even though it may not be as effective against the mutated H3N2 strain. “Even the partial protection is worth it because of the number of deaths and number of hospitalizations that can occur from H3N2,” Carolyn Bridges, MD, associate director of adult immunizations at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told HealthDay.

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