Flu Season’s Starting to Rear Its Head
By Steven Reinberg
“Flu activity is still pretty low, but it’s starting to increase,” Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated Friday.
Although flu is scattered all through the United States, the toughest hit locations thus far are New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the Southeast and the Northwest, Brammer stated. Most of the virus out there’s influenza H3N2, she added. That pressure is a part of this yr’s flu vaccine, in accordance to the CDC.
“And this week for the first time, we have data on initial hospitalizations,” Brammer stated. “The range of hospitalization is still low, however. As you would suspect with a H3N2 season, the highest rate right now is in the elderly.”
The general price of hospitalizations for flu is about 2 out of each 100,000 hospitalizations. In the aged it is 7 per each 100,000, Brammer stated. Those numbers are in keeping with the final 4 to 5 years of flu knowledge, she stated.
Flu exercise will decide up, she stated. “We don’t know how severe the season is going to be, so there is still time to get vaccinated. And getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself,” she stated.
This yr’s season is beginning out very similar to final yr, Brammer stated. Currently, influenza H3N2 is the predominant pressure, she stated, though H1N1 can also be circulating. Last yr, the H3N2 virus began out because the dominant pressure, solely to be displaced by H1N1 as flu season hit full swing. “It ended up being an H1N1 season,” she stated.
“It’s similar to a lot of years right now,” Brammer added. “Things should start to pick up in the next few weeks, but we’ll see. Last year, things didn’t really pick up until the first of the year.”
Last yr’s flu season was notably exhausting on older individuals.
In a typical flu season, flu problems — together with pneumonia — ship greater than 200,000 Americans to the hospital. Death charges linked to flu range yearly, however have gone as excessive as 49,000 in a yr, in accordance to the CDC.
Most of the time, flu exercise peaks between December and March however can final as late as May.
This yr’s vaccine incorporates the strains at present circulating, which makes it an excellent match, Brammer stated. The vaccine provide can also be good this yr, with greater than 131 million doses out there, she stated.
How efficient a vaccine is is determined by how good a match it’s to the strains of flu virus circulating that yr. Most years, the vaccine is between 40 % and 60 % efficient, in accordance to the CDC.
The CDC recommends that anybody 6 months of age and older get a flu shot. “You need to make additional positive for individuals at excessive danger, together with pregnant women, the aged and anybody with a persistent medical situation,” Brammer stated.
Women with newborns additionally want to get their flu shot to assist shield their infants, who cannot be vaccinated till they’re at the very least 6 months previous, the CDC stated.
Getting your flu shot quickly is necessary as a result of it will probably take a number of weeks to produce sufficient antibodies to offer you most safety, officers famous.
One change this yr is that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices doesn’t advocate that the nasal spray vaccine be utilized by anybody, as a result of it appears much less efficient than a shot, Brammer stated.
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SOURCE: Lynnette Brammer, M.P.H., epidemiologist, influenza division, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention