This year’s influenza season is picking up steam. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there have been nearly four times as many cases of influenza reported in Allegheny County than this same time last year. Just in this past week alone, the number of cases has doubled. Anya Sostek warns that even with a January peak, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine, so long as you get it soon:
Of concern to doctors is the particular strain of this year’s flu, H3N2, with a death rate that’s historically three times higher than other flu strains. A typical flu season sees about 10,000 deaths nationally, said Dr. Goldman, so 30,000 deaths would be expected from an H3N2 strain.
In addition, this year’s flu “drifted” in between when the vaccine was formulated and when it began infecting the public, meaning that the match is subpar. A typical flu vaccine has a 70 to 80 percent effectiveness, said Dr. Goldman, whereas this year’s vaccine is expected to be at 50 to 60 percent. That said, those who have been vaccinated and do get the flu will often get a less severe case than they would have had they not been vaccinated, he said.
If you are a regular reader of The PediaBlog, you’ve heard this all before: Influenza is common. It’s very contagious. It makes people very sick (or worse — it can kill even healthy people). The flu vaccine won’t get you sick, and it works! (At the very least, it will prevent you from getting very sick — or worse.)
You owe it to yourself, to your family, to your friends, and to your work colleagues. It’s the easiest thing to do.
Get a flu vaccine!
Read “Flu Update — 2014-15” (#1) here.