In the United States, there have already been some signs of severe flu season and the upcoming season could be nasty, according to health officials.
In the Southern Hemisphere, there has been a severe flu season, which could be a sign of what is coming to the Northern Hemisphere. The recent flu season in Australia arrived early, with the domination of a virulent flu strain called H3N2.
California has already reported one pediatric flu death, who had some underlying health issues, suggesting that this year’s flu season could be nasty.
Public Health Officer for Riverside County Dr. Cameron Kaiser said, “We should never forget that the flu still kills. A death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that there were more than 40 million flu illnesses in the United States last year, with nearly 61,000 deaths related to flu.
The last year’s flu season ran from October 1, 2018, to May 4, 2019.
The health officials have warned people to get the flu shot now or before Thanksgiving.
Dr. Robert Atmar from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said, “The concern with delaying it is that some people who might have the opportunity to get vaccinated now may not have that opportunity later.”
“The most important thing is for people to get their flu vaccine, and get it before the epidemic starts,” warned Dr. Atmar.
People who took the shot in September could expect some protection through the spring; however, older people should schedule their immunization sometime in October.
“For people over age 65, there is evidence that the high-dose vaccine will provide greater than a standard-dose vaccine,” said Dr. Atmar.
Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, “There is a concern that some older people may have their immunity wane simply because their immune system is more frail, less robust.”
Usually, the flu activity begins in October, picks up in November, peaks in February, and may last in the spring months.
Anyone above 6 months and expectant mothers should get vaccinated against the flu, according to the CDC. It may take up to a couple of weeks to get immune to the virus after receiving the flu shot.
However, the vaccine did not work well last year, as the overall efficacy was only 29 percent, suggesting that the flu shot may offer only partial protection. The health officials said that the poor efficacy was due to an unexpected second wave of H3N2 flu, which occurred late in the season.
Although the flu vaccine is known to offer partial protection, there is strong evidence that it can help ease the severity of the flu if at all you catch the virus. Physicians say that those who take the flu shot generally do not feel much sick and the risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia and even death, is less. Dr. Schaffner said, “Partial protection frequently gets overlooked, and we shouldn’t forget that. Because it’s those complications that do you in.”