Instead of waiting for New Years, the 2012-2013 flu season has gotten an early start by almost a month. This makes physicians nervous as it is breaking a decade-long trend by starting this early. What’s up with that, Influenza?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that the early season and the dominant flu strains suggest that this could be a bad flu year. The dominant influenza strain this year is influenza A (H3N2,) which has been associated with more severe flu seasons.
Whew, now for some good news. The good news is that this year’s flu vaccine is a 90% match for the specimens that have been sent to the CDC. Also impressive is that a staggering 112 million Americans have been vaccinated so far this flu season.
How do we know it’s an early season? There have been more outpatient visits nationally for flu-like illnesses. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas reported the highest influenza-like illness activity during the past two weeks.
Why should we care about the flu? Every year I am impressed by how sick Influenza can make folks and remind yourself how many deaths influenza can cause. During the period of November 17th-24th 6.3% of all
reported deaths were due to pneumonia and influenza.
The vaccine is safe and easy and remains the best tool that we have. Two options exist for adults: the trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) is the shot most adults will receive with the live attenuated influenza vaccine (the nasal spray) being another option with limitations you can discuss with your doctor.
- Dr. O
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