Area health officials hope 'worst is behind us' for hard-hitting flu season

01 March, 2018, 13:36 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • America's Nightmare Flu Season Is Finally Coming to an End

"By looking closely at the available data and applying the lessons we learn each flu season to the vaccine development process, we offer the greatest chance of developing vaccines that even more effectively prevent the flu in the future", Gottlieb said.

Lara Anton with the Texas Department of State Health Services says the number of people going to the Doctor with flu symptoms is down over the last couple of weeks, but it's still higher than it has been at the peak of the two previous outbreaks. He said it is still not too late to get a flu shot and advises doing so. Of note, the effectiveness of the vaccine against H3N2 in children 6 months to 8 years of age was 51 percent this season, yet the effectiveness in those 65 years and older was only 17 percent, and the effectiveness in older children and adults under 65 years of age was even lower.

Five pediatric deaths were reported so far this season in IL. Some "natural" health websites have misrepresented remarks of a Wisconsin county public health nurse, Anna Treague, who was trying to explain to a local newspaper why this year's influenza vaccine was not as effective as other years.

"We know as long as there is flu activity out there, you should get vaccinated and that's one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk and reducing the severity of the flu if you do get it", said McCall. The vaccines cover this and Influenza B, H-1-N-1.

Unlike traditional flu vaccines, which use a form of the flu that is already dead, "attenuated influenza" vaccines actually contain a live flu virus, albeit in a drastically weakened state.

So why did this season's vaccines not deliver higher protection against H3N2?

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About half of the children who have died were otherwise healthy, and most weren't fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Some theories: Maybe protection against H3N2 requires "a higher amount of H3N2 antigen to elicit a proper immune response", compared to that needed against other strains, Gottlieb said.

So the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is bent on making sure next year's flu shot works better, agency commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement released Monday.

In the meantime, this flu season isn't over yet, though CDC data shows a decline in visits to doctor's offices and outpatient clinics. The WHO recommends vaccination for global travelers for 21 Brazilian states, and the group is closely monitoring for signs that new areas are at risk.

Those who get the vaccine and still get the flu are less likely to experience flu complications (such as pneumonia) since the virus tends to be milder in people who were vaccinated.

"We're seeing the flu in everybody, of all ages".



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