Expect a Bad Flu Season

Mass. Hit With Early Flu Season

According to the Department of Health, the numbers are upsetting but not surprising.

The number of lab-confirmed cases is up to 304, up more than 100 from last week. Next are, in order, York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties. Last year's flu vaccine effectiveness was just 42%, the CDC estimated this year, while preliminary estimates published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that this year's vaccine may be just 10% effective.

"Flu is increasing. We're seeing a pretty steep increase in influenza activity across the United States but especially in the South", said Brendan Flannery, a co-author of the new report and an epidemiologist in the CDC's flu division.

The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

Flu shots are available at more than 300 locations around Vermont.

Winter is in the air and so is flu season, especially in the South. Some patients believe they can protect themselves by boosting their immune systems, eating well and making sure they sleep better, she said. "Once it's here, it'll spread like a brushfire".

It may not sound like a disaster, since this year's flu shot is only 10 percent effective against the difficult-to-stop H3N2 strain. He encourages people age 65 and older to talk with their doctor about getting one of the vaccines created to give older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against flu.

Don't underestimate how sick flu can make you, Mills cautioned. Flu related complications can include pneumonia and dehydration.

Smith said she suffered temporary paralysis after getting the shot.

It is impossible to contract a case of flu from the vaccine.

This possibility underscores the need to strive toward a "universal" influenza vaccine that will protect against seasonal influenza drift variants as well as potential pandemic strains, with better durability than current annual vaccines.

Therefore, do you think it's worth getting a flu shot this year? That means sneezing, coughing, spitting. Wash your hands. The virus lives on doorknobs and other things people touch. Drink plenty of fluids. In some cases, a health provider will prescribe over the phone and avoid having sick individuals come in to the office with their germs. "So you don't take it home to someone you love", Dillaha said.

Previous year in Canada and the USA, the vaccine was found to be only 35 per cent effective in preventing cases of H3N2 influenza, she said.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.

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