It is important for people to get the influenza vaccine. This flu season could be more serious. The predominant strain H3N2 is the nastiest. The strain caused the worst outbreak of the two influenza A viruses and two types of influenza B. Experts say that this is able to change more quickly compared to the other viruses targeted in the 2017-18 seasonal influenza vaccine.
The H3N2 was a predominant strain three years ago, but it has been around for 50 years. Health experts say that the seasons where H3N2 dominates will typically result in the most complications for the very young, the elderly, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
New Health Alert Facing Widespread Flu Activity
The CDC has issued a new health alert that 23 states are facing widespread flu activity, which represents confirmed cases. The flu virus is known to be airborne. It can spread 3 – 6 feet from a person who is sick and not just from coughing and sneezing, but from breathing and talking.
The flu season is expected to peak early in 2017, increasing dramatically through the holiday season. Officials were especially concerned about the H3N2 based on surveillance in the Southern Hemisphere. This is often a clue for what to expect in the United States.
H3N2 Viruses Most Common in Australia
H3N2 viruses were most common in Australia. According to the government data, the flu virus began increasing earlier than usual and hit historic highs in some areas. Interim reports suggested that the effectiveness of the vaccine against H3N2 was only 10 percent. The influenza vaccine composition used in the Southern Hemisphere is the same for the United States. Experts have said that it is impossible to say that the United States will have the same 10 percent efficacy against H3N2 with the current vaccine.
While the influenza vaccine may not be perfect, and some people who get the shots may still get the flu, the vaccination may make the illness milder. Since the body takes about two weeks to produce a full immune response, the CDC recommends an injectable flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, as soon as possible.
As the flu activity sharply increased in the United States, people are encouraged to get their influenza vaccine, even those with egg allergies. It is important to get the influenza vaccine. This year’s influenza vaccine is thought to offer only 10 percent protection against the virus strain right now. While a whole lot of folks are going to get sick even if they line up for the needle, many of those who might get it will have a reduced severity of the infection. Ten percent protection is better than zero. It is always better to get vaccinated, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Latest Influenza Data From the CDC
Health officials are urging people to get the influenza vaccine if they’re around children and the elderly, who are most at risk. The CDC’s latest weekly influenza data showed that since Oct. 1, 2017, more than 13,400 confirmed cases were reported in the United States as of last Dec. 23, which is more than six times the number of such cases at this time last year.
Since 2010, the CDC estimates that the flu has led to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and from 12,000 to 56,000 deaths annually in the United States. Generally, the flu season peaks near the end of February. The CDC’s flu forecasters predict that the flu season will peak by the end of December and there could be a greater number of incidents by January.
Flu Forecasting Is Important so People Can Prepare
The flu is extremely unpredictable. Each year it can be remarkably different. Forecasting is important to help people to get the proper influenza vaccine, and plan their lives the same way they would according to a weather forecast. Getting the flu vaccine too early or too late means the patient is unprotected for the very early or the late days of the flu season. The flu can be deadly for the elderly with weaker immune systems, the very young or the weak.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Individuals who have the virus can infect others a day before symptoms develop and 7 days after getting sick. When the flu symptoms begin, consider staying at home if possible.
By Janet Grace Origas
Edited by Jeanette Smith
The Washington Post: Why this may be a bad flu season – especially around the holidays
Newsweek: FLU 2017: WHEN THE SEASON WILL PEAK AND WHEN IT WILL COME TO AN END
ABC News: Flu cases climb, but worst is likely yet to come
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