Health officials warn of widespread flu activity
- Author: Lila Blake Feb 17, 2017,
Feb 17, 2017, 0:24
Sandon S. Speedling, MHS, CPM, Acting County Health Officer at the Florida Department of Health in Jackson County stated, "Getting vaccinated is the single most effective way to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu".
Most of the flu sufferers this year have contracted H3N2, a strain of the virus known to be particularly hard on the elderly.
The US findings mesh with vaccine effectiveness results seen elsewhere this season.
According to CDC statistics, 82.3 percent of positive lab results say Ohioans are carrying the A (H3) strain.
ADPH stressed that the influenza vaccine is the most important preventive measure against the flu and that flu shots are still recommended at this stage in flu season. During the 2014-2015 season, effectiveness was just 19%, according to the CDC. One study found this type of vaccine was 63 percent more effective than regular-dose unadjuvanted flu shots in persons over the age of 65. Scientists have identified almost 600 variations of the virus this season.
With the flu being so unpredictable doctors say the flu peaks at different times every year and it's almost impossible to determine what causes more cases from one year to the next. Influenza A (H3N2) viruses have predominated overall, though the CDC also identified influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 and influenza B viruses.
"Flu vaccination should begin soon after vaccine becomes available, if possible by October". Pediatric deaths nationwide are now at 20. We can keep you from getting quite as sick. "Activity is increasing in some of the Midwest and the East Coast".
"The current flu vaccine is the best preventative measure we now have". "It will protect you for the rest of the season". Because of this, it requires more frequent vaccine updates to "maintain activity against evolving circulating strains". "It's a big number for what is a moderate level of vaccine effectiveness", he said.
This is shaping up as a moderately severe flu season, he added.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner freely admits that "the flu vaccine is an imperfect vaccine, it often can not prevent flu completely".
Jacqueline Katz, deputy director of the CDC's influenza division, said a theory behind the poor performance of the H3N2 component of the vaccine relates to the way flu vaccine is produced. "You won't have to be admitted to the hospital, you won't have to go to the ICU, and you won't die".