Flu is targeting more young folks and pregnant woman this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC claims that 61% of flu hospitalizations have centered on people aged 18-64. That is contrasted with last year when only 35% of people in that age range were hospitalized for flu. At the same time, the flu is targeting more pregnant woman, who, like the young, are more vulnerable. Even though flu season is winding down, folks in the U.S. are not out of the woods yet, say health officials.
The main culprit targeting the young this year is the swine flu or what it called the H1 N1 virus. In Texas, for example, 13 children have died from the flu, three more than last flu season.
A pregnant woman in Arkansas died recently from the flu. After she checked herself into the hospital she had a miscarriage and passed away three weeks later. A pregnant woman just died in the Los Angeles area. Apparently pregnant and postpartum women are more likely than others to get severe illness from flu. In Houston, a 47- year old teacher high school teacher died just hours after she started getting flu like symptoms.
Overall , the flu season in the U.S. has not been as bad as had been predicted. Nevertheless, the flu remains a serious, even fatal, threat. Flu season usually starts mid December, peaks in January and starts to taper down in February and March.
In California some 278 people have died from the flu during this most recent flu season, according to the California Department of Public Health. That’s a record for influenza deaths in the Golden state.
On average, the CDC says that each year some 24,000 folks in the United States die from the flu while another 220,000 are hospitalized.
The best defense is a good offense, adds the CDC, stressing that anyone six months or older should be vaccinated. That alone will reduce the chance of acquiring the flu by 60%. It’s the single most effective thing one can do, adds the CDC, but many people never get around to flu shots.
Young people and many middle-aged adults, often feeling immortal, are notorious for not getting flu shots. Only 34% of people in the 18-64 demographic receive flu shots which is the lowest for any age demographic.
The flu, of course, can be deadly. The malady starts off with symptoms like fever, severe aches and pains in joints and muscles, sore throat, cough, chills, runny and stuffy nose, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If untreated, these symptoms can morph to worse conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis, in some cases death.
It usually takes about two weeks for a flu shot to become fully effective.
The CDC says it is advisable to get a flu shot every year since the immunity from the shot wears off and different strains surface each year.
Flu shots are also easy to get so there is no excuse. If someone cannot make it to their doctor, many local pharmacies offer them. Even retailers like Costco offer them. There are even drive through locations that offer them. Further, there are online resources such as the Health Map Vaccine Finder which shows users via maps and lists where they can get a flu shot nearby. All they have to do is plug in their zip code.
It may also be a good idea to get vaccinated for other illnesses as well such as measles or shingles. California is seeing more measles as 15 people in the state have come down with the illness as opposed to only 3 people at the same time last year.
Bottom line. There is a still a good deal of flu circulating in the United States. If a person has not gotten vaccinated, it is a good idea to do so. Flu season is in full throttle and young folks and pregnant women are not out of the woods yet.
By Jim McCullaugh