Cold and flu season has already begun, and health officials are saying that influenza mutations may mean new flu shots this year. Recent cases of influenza have been predominantly H1N1 cases in many locations. People who had been inoculated for the 2009 strain of H1N1 may not be protected against H1N1 in 2014.
Many health experts recommend a flu shot once every season anyway. Because flu shots take two weeks before they are fully effective, these health experts recommend that people get the inoculation early in the flu season, before the virus comes to town.
H1N1 is currently breaking out in small pockets across the U.S., most notably in Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, and Texas, and in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
Over the past two weeks, H1N1 incidence has doubled.
In the U.S. influenza is widespread in 25 states and exists regionally in at least 20 more. Six children have died in the U.S. this year from influenza. Currently, the highest levels of flu activity are in Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, and Texas.
Michigan has had at least three deaths.
In Texas, only one death has been reported, but Texas’ Center for Disease Control announced that positive flu cases jumped five percent last week. Most new flu cases are H1N1.
The Center for Disease Control issued a recent health advisory urging people to get flu shots.
Several of Canada’s provinces have been hit with influenza, reinforcing the recommendation of some health experts that new strains of the virus may mean new shots to combat new mutilations.
In British Columbia’s Lower Mainland area, 15 people of various ages have been hospitalized due to H1N1. One person may have died from H1N1 in the Fraser Valley.
In Alberta there have been 965 lab-confirmed cases, of which 251 people have been hospitalized. At least 5 deaths have resulted from the flu this season.
Alberta Health Services officials are calling for all Albertans to receive flu vaccinations.
About 21 percent of Albertans have received a vaccination already this year, but health experts say that this is not enough to protect the population.
In Ontario, six deaths have resulted from the flu this season. Two of those six were H1N1 cases. However, current flu cases are 90 percent H1N1.
In 2009 the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic when H1N1 broke out. 12 000 Americans died of H1N1 in 2009. This prompted many people in Canada and America to get vaccinations.
Flu season peaks in January or February, typically, but continues until March or April. So far this year, the flu has arrived in an expected manner, according to health professionals. H1N1 did not hit hard over the Christmas season, which was a blessing because flu at that time of year can cause increased problems in care facilities.
The H1N1 virus affects children and young adults more than it does older adults. The H1N1 influenza virus attacks otherwise healthy people, including adults in the prime of their life, and this may mean new shots are a good idea, if H1N1 has come this year in a mutation from previous seasons.
By Day Blakely Donaldson