Not everyone agrees that the flu shot is one of the best ways to protect families and prevent serious complications, including Dr. Erika Schwartz, an internist and founder of a medical practice in New York City that focuses on wellness and disease prevention. "Getting an annual flu vaccination protects seniors, and everyone around them, too, including their grandchildren".
"Human immune defenses become weaker with age, which places older people at greater risk of severe illness", explained Dr. Levine.
According to this report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of people with the flu reached over two hundred and fifteen thousand by the middle of October in Australia, almost three times more than the H1N1 pandemic almost a decade ago. "And that may dampen down the contribution of H3N2 this season, which would be a good thing".
As clinicians prepare for our influenza season, experts have been watching the Southern Hemisphere winter for hints of what might be in store.
Schwartz, who was not involved in the CDC reports, said some of her patients take the flu shot, but others do not.
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"If this persists, there could be kind of a double-barrelled threat with B/Yamagata and influenza A/H3N2". It's the hallmark of the influenza virus, and now comes word that this year's vaccine may only be 10% effective.
The number of influenza-associated hospitalizations reported in individuals in the 65 years and older age group is almost double the average number of cases reported over the past five flu seasons.
Dr. Allison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said lab testing in Ontario is turning up "quite a lot of B isolates, almost as many Bs as H3N2". "But whether it's going to be a B or H3N2 or mixed is still open". In addition to DHEC clinics, many local providers - including doctors' offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools and workplaces - now offer flu vaccines. But those strains aren't exact matches to the two strains that are now circulating through the population.
For answers to questions about the flu and the flu vaccine, people can access the CDC website at www.cdc.gov, or contact the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department at 325-646-0554.
And the B strain circulating isn't a Victoria lineage as predicted by the World Health Organization, but a Yamagata known as B/Phuket. Last year, a similar vaccine was 43 percent effective against the H3N2 virus and 48 percent effective overall, according to the CDC.
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"So given that, particularly for the H3N2 component, the vaccine effectiveness we're anticipating will be low", predicted Skowronski.
"What's not measured is that, even if you get the flu in spite of the vaccine, your flu case is likely to be milder; you're less likely to have the complications of pneumonia, having to be hospitalized and dying", he said.
"We have probably given an excessive 300 flu shots so far and we still have flu shots", Sheila Hubenka, a TB charge nurse with the health district said. "And this isn't the season to be thumping the pulpit over that".
More than 7,000 cases of the flu have already been confirmed in the U.S. "And there are a lot of H1N1 and B viruses out there", Brammer said.
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