Medical experts: Flu season may be a bad one

Friday, 01 Dec, 2017

Health officials said this is Eastern Washington's first flu-related death season.

For many, the flu vaccine is covered under some form of insurance or through Medicare Part B - and often with no out-of-pocket cost. Last season, the SCDHEC saw peaks of the flu in late February and March. Across the globe, there are an estimated 3 million to 5 million severe flu cases each year and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths.

"Even though we're all using the same flu vaccine, we haven't seen it here in the USA yet". This approach usually provides effective coverage from the flu for most vaccine recipients-well, 40 to 60% of the time, which is pretty good in terms as far as vaccine coverage goes.

In Australia this past flu season, the problem did not appear to be a mismatch between the flu strains that were circulating and those that the available vaccine protected against, Fauci said.

Regardless, doctors in Wilkes-Barre say you should still get your flu shot. The vaccine greatly reduces the chances of contracting the virus and, if contracted, may make the symptoms milder. Viruses have a tendency to mutate over time, which makes the vaccine less effective.

After citing preliminary data from Australia, they said the flu vaccine used this year is only 10 percent effective.

Last flu season, 315 people were hospitalized due to flu in Spokane County and 14 patients died due to flu-related complications. Flu activity during the pandemic was dominated by 2009 H1N1 virus circulation, with nearly no seasonal viruses being detected during that time. There are also immune-boosting influenza vaccines for those aged 65 and above, and preservative-free versions for pregnant women or those who are allergic to mercury.

The flu can be a serious virus, and understanding that your vaccination may not keep you from getting sick is important.

The doctors added that the ineffective shots had the lowest rate of success in preventing influenza A. The flu strain - also known as H3N2 - "historically is always the worse influenza", according to Dr. Fauci and can result in severe illness and possibly death in at-risk patients.

"Just because it was the predominant strain in Australia six months ago doesn't mean it will be the predominant strain here", Dr. Charles Bregier, with Novant Health, said.