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Health officials warn vaccines likely ineffective against new flu strain

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SAN DIEGO - The Centers for Disease Control have sent out a warning about a new strain of flu that current vaccines may not be effective against.

The strain hasn't been reported in San Diego County, and it is not clear if it is contagious, but if it turns out that it is, local doctors say the flu shot will likely not be able to protect people against it.

"If there's a strain that begins to circulate in the community that's new, that won't be covered by the vaccine," said Dr. John Bradley, chief of infectious disease at Rady Children's Hospital. "It takes about a year, once a new strain has been identified, to create a vaccine for that new strain."

The news comes during an already active flu season. Bradley said the number of people getting sick with the flu has risen. However, the number flu deaths is down so far this year.

Across San Diego County, there have been more than 5,000 cases of the flu this season and 11 deaths. Bradley said one simple act can help people protect themselves from getting sick.

"All the hand gels that are out there -- soap and water -- just use soap and water! If you get it on your hands, just put on the gel," said Bradley.

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