Doctors encourage flu vaccine late in season

Doctors encourage flu vaccine late in season

Flu season will be a little easier next year for people who hate needles.

Here in Tift County, there have been roughly 490 confirmed flu cases at Tift Regional Medical Center as of February 18, according to data from Tift Regional Health Systems.

But even though the vaccine isn't as effective against the most common flu strain, the CDC still recommends that those who haven't been vaccinated do so.

It looks like the nasty flu season we've been experiencing is leveling off, according to the Maryland Department of Health. It has been driven by a formidable type of flu that tends to cause more hospitalizations and deaths.

Serious flu infection is not only a threat to elderly people, but also to younger people who often visit public spaces, lack sleep, are heavy drinkers, or have weaker immune systems due to chronic diseases.

"I do think that the worst is behind us, but we continue to follow (flu cases) closely", said Dr. Marielle Fricchione, medical director of the immunization program at the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Inflammatory response can increase with age and the antibodies' response to vaccination can diminish with age, he said. Both are misconceptions, including pregnant women shouldn't get vaccinated and the vaccine actually gives you flu. FluMist, which delivers a weakened version of the flu through the nose should be ready by next year's flu season.

Many of this year's flu cases can be attributed to the ineffectiveness of the vaccine now being used; the CDC points out that it is only 25 percent effective against the H3N2 virus, this year's most widespread form of the flu. "There's still room for us to improve and get better and make a better vaccine".

"As it's turning out, the majority of the kids nationally who died from the flu did not get the vaccine", said Douglas.

Public health experts say a flu shot is still worth getting.

"We're seeing the flu in everybody, of all ages". "We could be looking at a couple more weeks of higher activity".

The flu nasal mist will also return to the market next year after it received the regulatory OK from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. "There's talk of it coming out again".

Higa said it's unlikely the flu shot will ever be a ideal match, as the virus mutates quickly.

She hoped a better flu shot could encourage more people to do just that. Nevertheless, the current rate, while more than two percentage points above the epidemic threshold, is still down from the seasonal high of more than 10 percent. The data show that overall vaccine effectiveness for H1N1 and influenza B was 67 percent and 42 percent, respectively, for all age groups combined. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are possible.

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