If you read this blog often you know I have been writing about the upcoming flu season since the vaccine was released this summer. The predictions were that it might be a “bad” flu season due to the fact that Australia had had a severe flu season, and the United States often sees the same influenza strains that were previously in the southern hemisphere.
The predominant strain in Australia was an influenza A virus (H3N2 strain) which seemed to have caused outbreaks with more serious illness. The H3N2 strain was also the one that was included in this years (2017-2018) influenza vaccine currently being given.
Preliminary studies from Australian data analyzed the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine against H3N2 and found that it was only about 10% effective in preventing this type of flu. This is not great news for the impending flu season in the U.S.
At the same time we are already seeing early flu cases in several states including Oklahoma and Louisiana as well as increasing activity in several other states. As I noted in an earlier post, Dallas has been seeing some early flu activity as well. I have already seen two doctors who were immunized succumb to influenza A with classic symptoms of fever, body aches, chills, sore throat and cough….and indeed sick enough to be home from work for several days, where I assure you they were missed!
If indeed flu season continues to increase in the next weeks it could potentially be a busy Christmas season….and not just for Santa. The more we “gather together”, whether at a party, church, on an airplane or in a mall shopping, the more likely you are to be exposed to the flu and to infect others.
So, the best way to try and prevent getting the flu is to still go ahead and get vaccinated, despite the question of how effective the vaccine may be. Any protection is certainly better than none. Other ways to ward off the flu? Continue good hand washing and observe respiratory and cough hygiene. When possible stay away from large groups of people and this is especially important for very young children, under 6 months of age who cannot receive a flu vaccine and who also have more complications with the flu.
Lastly, if you are sick and have flu like symptoms, stay home! Do not send your child to day care or school. If you the parent get sick you also need to stay home and not go to work, or host the Christmas cookie exchange etc. etc…..and risk exposing others as well.
i am working over the Christmas holidays and continue to pray that all of the above predictions are WRONG!! Stay tuned for further updates.