Flu season could be rougher than usual this year

08 Décembre, 2017, 00:50 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • A pharmacist at the Wal Greens on Wilson Street in Brewer prepares to inject a patient with the flu vaccine

"It's best to get it now and not wait until the flu is more widespread", Beard said.

Flu is a contagious, viral illness that causes mild to severe symptoms that, in rare cases, can lead to death.

According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, this year's vaccine is only 10% effective because the virus mutated. "It's a good guess that H3N2 will predominate, and that's worrisome", he said.

Winter is in the air and so is flu season, especially in the South.

In B.C., for instance, low levels of H3N2 infection have been confirmed since the beginning of the season in late August, but a strain known as B/Yamagata has also been found circulating within the population.

"It hits you like a freight train", she said.

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"If this persists, there could be kind of a double-barrelled threat with B/Yamagata and influenza A/H3N2".

Vaccine options this year include the standard formulation that protects against three strains of the virus; a "quadrivalent" version that protects more broadly; and two different high-dose options for adults 65 and older. "H3N2 seasons have been more severe in terms of hospitalization and death, especially in the elderly and young children; that's a concern". We encourage individuals, and especially seniors, to protect themselves this holiday season with an annual flu vaccine so that they can continue doing the things they love with their families. It's a less effective match for the B strains, which so far account for only a small handful of reported lab results in Maine. "The vaccine doesn't work as well for H3N2 viruses in general".

And the B strain circulating isn't a Victoria lineage as predicted by the World Health Organization, but a Yamagata known as B/Phuket.

Flu activity, which has been increasing since the start of November, is now higher than usual for this time of year, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although H3N2 is not as virulent as some other strains of flu, it mutates very easily, making it stronger against the body's immune system. But health officials still recommend getting the flu shot, saying it still inoculates against H1N1 and is better than having no protection. "And this isn't the season to be thumping the pulpit over that".

Tonda Francis, vice president of Regional Coordination and Clinical Initiatives at the Health Collaborative, said the rate of employees who are terminated for refusing flu shots is low.

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