The recent news about this flu season has all been bad. As reported in this Reuters article, the match between the strains in this year’s flu vaccine and the strains that are actually making people sick in North America are not as close as in previous years, meaning the flu vaccine this year is giving patients less protection than it has in the past. There are documented cases of vaccinated patients still coming down with confirmed flu infections. Still, experts think that the vaccine may decrease the severity of the illness.
To make matters worse, it looks like we’re not nearly done with the flu season yet. According to the weekly flu surveillance by the Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of Health Services incidence of flu both nationally and in California is still on the rise.
So where does that leave us? Well, if you’re in a high risk group (pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease, and people 65 and older) getting the vaccine still makes sense. It’s also a good time to reinforce good general germ-avoidance habits like frequent hand-washing and avoiding people who are sick.
Finally, since there is an antiviral medicine that shortens the duration of the flu but that only works if it’s taken within 48 hours of symptom onset, please take the time to read about the symptoms of flu and call your doctor promptly if you get sick.
Like the interminable primaries and the rainy weather, I hope this is over soon.