The Bug is Back!

Flu_ShotIt seems like it just ended, but flu season is back and experts believe this year’s influenza bug may be carrying a nasty bite.

From AzFamily.com:

Last year’s seasonal flu vaccine effectiveness was just 42%, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated. Even if vaccinated, then, people had inadequate protection against the flu.

This year’s flu vaccine may also be imperfect, said Scott Hensley, author of the new study and an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Add to that, he said, “this could end up being a pretty bad flu season.”

According to ABC15 in Phoenix, “It’s still early days, but experts believe we may be facing a tough season, and not only because of vaccine concerns. The reason?”

Australia had a tough flu season this year, with a total of 215,280 laboratory-confirmed cases and 504 flu-associated deaths reported to its National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System as of October 13, government data show. According to a surveillance system report, adults over the age of 80 and children between 5 and 9 years old have been most affected.

“In general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview last month. An “intelligent guess,” therefore, is that the Northern Hemisphere, like the Southern Hemisphere, will likely battle more cases of the viral infection, he said.

Just two days ago, Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, wrote a short piece on the ADHS website titled – “Influenza Is Here So It’s Time To Get Vaccinated.” Below is an excerpt from Dr. Christ’s post.

Since the beginning of October, Arizona has had 92 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza reported from 10 counties, compared to 20 cases at this time last year.

This means if you and your family haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, now is the time. The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect you and your family from getting influenza. The CDC recommends that all people 6 months or older receive the vaccine as soon as possible.

flu_vaccineIf you’d like to know where you can go to get a flu shot in your area, check out vaccinefinder.org. Just drop in your address to find the nearest vaccine clinic in your neighborhood.

So, if last year’s vaccine was only 42 percent effective and experts fear this year’s may be “imperfect” as well…..some of you may wonder why you should bother with the vaccine at all. MedicalXpress.com quoted Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as saying – “Even though flu vaccine isn’t perfect, getting a flu shot is still the best way to protect yourself from the flu.”

Dr. Jernigan added that each year up to 60,000 Americans die from the flu and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized.

Let us know what you think about predictions that we may be in for tough flu season this year. Whether you plan to get a flu shot or not, we’d love to hear from you. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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