The worst of this flu season may be behind us

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- The worst of the flu season may be over, at least for residents in North Alabama, according to new data from the Alabama Department of Health.

WHNT News 19 learned Friday the number of confirmed flu cases has started to show signs of a decline. This is good news during a flu season when the flu vaccine is doing a pretty crummy job, according to health care professionals. Officials say it’s only 23% effective.

That’s one of the worst performances since the government started tracking how well vaccines work a decade ago. The best flu vaccines were 50 to 60% effective.

This year, the vaccine doesn’t include the specific virus that is making most people sick. Early in the season, officials warned the vaccine probably would not work very well.

In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the flu had reached “epidemic” levels after 15 died as a result of the virus. Flu-related hospitalizations among people 65 years and older has reached 38.3 per 100,000 people, the highest rate of any age group.