This season's flu shot far more effective than last year's, researchers find

Desiree Burns
January 26, 2019

However, in recent years, outbreaks (three or more linked cases) of some of these diseases have caused concern. Even when the sun is out and the weather starts warming up, the virus is on the move. "Don't be deceived by the weather".

The department of health defines a flu-related death as a "death resulting from a clinically compatible illness that was confirmed to be influenza by an appropriate laboratory or rapid diagnostic test with no period of complete recovery between the illness and death".

Thirty-six states are now reporting widespread geographical flu activity.

The flu activity kept intensifying in the country as 16.1 percent of respiratory specimens were tested positive for flu viruses during that week, increasing from 12.7 percent in the previous week.

Moreover, 3 additional influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported during Week #3.

Stamford Hospital's Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Michael Parry said approximately two-thirds of patients who were recently admitted to the Stamford Hospital for influenza had not received a flu shot.

"As the season goes on we really get an idea of what strain is circulating and when we saw that was the case, we're seeing what we expected, that it would be younger and middle-aged people that were struck with worse illnesses from the flu", said Waters. We're having higher attack rates in younger children.

"The average age of someone who is being hospitalized, so quite ill with influenza, was 72 a year ago".

According to the statewide report, a strain of Influenza A is the predominant circulating strain in Nebraska.

Richard K. Zimmerman MD MPH
Richard K. Zimmerman MD MPH

At public health labs, there were few influenza B detections, with influenza A making up 98.4% of flu viruses. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.

"Based on reports from local schools, flu is spreading in schools with several local schools reporting greater than 11 percent absence due to illness", she wrote in an email.

Over the past five seasons, the end-of-season hospitalization rates have ranged from 31.4 per 100,000 (2015-2016) to 102.8 per 100,000 (2017-2018). "It is possible that it could be comparable if not a worse season than a year ago for Nebraska".

Young children have been especially vulnerable to H1N1 this season.

Parents should consult their healthcare provider if their child has a fever, fatigue or generally isn't feeling well, Warner said.

In 2018, the flu spread across the country in one of the worst outbreaks in USA history.

Wash hands with soap and water and use an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water aren't available will help. It is transmitted via droplets from an infected person through coughing, talking and sneezing, and through contact with the surfaces, material and clothing contaminated with discharges of an infected person.

In 2018, the predominant strain was H3N2 and the flu shot was less than 20 percent effective at containing the epidemic.

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