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CDC: Flu Hammering Country, With More to Come
14 January 2018, 01:52 | Devin Moran
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This year's flu season is shaping up to be a nasty one.
Hospital pharmacists and other staff have been devising alternatives and workarounds, training doctors and nurses on new procedures and options, and hitting the phones to try to secure fluids from secondary suppliers.
CDC officials estimate that, on average, influenza kills about 24,000 Americans a year, including about 100 children.
"So manytimes I hear the comment 'I got the flu shot but I still got the flu.' It may be true but unless we test you for that, most likely you did come down with some other illness".
But Maine Medical Center is seeing "pretty much a normal flu season for January", spokeswoman Caroline Cornish said Saturday.
The high uptake of the flu jab this winter follows Australia's worst outbreak on record, with an epidemic in Europe feared later in the year. The preliminary vaccine effectiveness data from studies ongoing this season will not be available until at least mid-February. So far this season there have been 20 pediatric deaths, most from influenza A. Although researchers were able to predict ahead of time the strain of this year's season, the chicken eggs in which vaccines are created can pick up mutations that look a little different than the H3N2 affecting humans - making the vaccine less effective.
Jernigan characterized the current flu season as "on the severe side", but said it does not appear to be as severe as the 2014/2015 flu season, which was also driven by an H3N2 virus. Additional factors like patients' ages may also affect the degree of protection a particular vaccine offers.
But as bad as it is right now, it's worth remembering, we've been here before. For others, the illness can still be downright miserable. The shot is about reducing your risk, not eliminating it. It was back last winter but the vaccine was a better fit.
One reason is that "less" and "more" effective are relative terms. "We've had people in their 20s needing a ventilator". The CDC advises to still get the shot.
The percentage of hospital admissions due to pneumonia also have risen above the 4 percent baseline statewide, officials say. This means that the number of people who needed to be treated for one person to see the benefit - a concept known as NNT - was 37.
Virtually the entire country is now reporting widespread flu, the first time that's happened in 13 years.
Honeycutt said flu can strike anytime throughout the year, but most cases occur between October and April. The absolute risk reduction was 1.3 percentage points, and the NNT was 77.
The previous report, from data gathered December 23, stated that seven people had died from the flu in Travis County up to that point. "People get confused with saying that's influenza". The oldest and the youngest are the most vulnerable. STAT reporter Helen Branswell called it the "problem child of seasonal flu".
The negatives of a flu shot are nearly nonexistent, and significant side effects are very rare.
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