Last month, we reported that this could be an especially deadly flu season for seniors. The reason given in that report was based upon reports that the flu vaccine being administered this season was found to be only 10% effective in preventing the flu.
The reason is that the vaccine is prepared to combat a specific strain of flu, but it doesn’t protect against other strains nor does it protect against any mutated versions of the same strain. There are also a number of other illnesses that are generically referred to as the flu due to similar symptoms
Even with the minimal protection of the flu vaccine, many doctors are still recommending that young (children) and older people receive the vaccine anyway as 10% is better than 0% protection.
Not only is the news of a fairly ineffective flu vaccine cause for some concern, but news coming from the medical communities throughout America are also cause for concern as it appears the flu is hitting earlier and harder than in recent years. Based upon prior years with early and higher numbers of flu cases reported, this year may see many more people hospitalized and dying due to the flu.
From Connecticut, it’s being reported:
“There were 355 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in Connecticut and a total of 144 people were hospitalized with the virus through Dec. 16, according to the most recent report from the state health department. That compares to 255 confirmed cases and 98 hospitalizations a week earlier.”
From San Diego County:
“The number of influenza cases and related fatalities skyrocketed in the San Diego region last week, pushing the ‘flu season’ totals to levels far ahead of the same time last year, county health officials reported on Wednesday.” …
“Six additional fatalities were reported last week, pushing the total number of deaths so far to 11. Last year at this time, the death toll was four.” …
“Pennsylvania is currently labeled as widespread by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means there are flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state.”
“So far, three people have died this season from the flu. In that time, Dauphin County has had reported 78 cases, Lancaster County has had 115 and York County has had 150.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to doctors and hospitals that the number of cases of the flu are drastically higher than last year and that it appears to be taking a heavy toll on many patients.
Before the Christmas holiday, 23 states were already reporting widespread outbreaks of flu, most of which have been identified as the H3N2 strains, but there are also cases being reported of H1N1 and several other varieties of influenza.
The 23 states reporting widespread outbreaks are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
As mobile as many Americans are these days, it’s just a matter of days until many more states are added to the list.
Symptoms to watch out for include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
If you or anyone in your family experience some of these symptoms collectively, see your doctor as soon as possible. This is especially important for younger and older people.