Leading flu expert says flu season knocking at our door
WASHINGTON - It may be hard to believe, but flu season is almost upon us. This upcoming season will follow, the 2017-2018 season, one of the most deadly flu seasons in recorded history.
Last season included more than 30,000 hospitalizations and 180 pediatric deaths linked to influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It was a bad virus to begin with and the vaccine itself was not optimally protective against it,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, at the National Institutes of Health.
Last year’s flu vaccine was only 25 percent effective against H3N2, a subtype of the virus that infected thousands.
One year later, Fauci says he wants everyone possible to get vaccinated between now and the end of October.
“And people always ask--well should I get vaccinated even if the vaccine is not 95 percent protective? And the answer is always an overwhelming yes. Because it’s always better to have some degree of protection than no protection at all,” Fauci said in an interview Friday.
Anyone over six months old can be vaccinated; but those at the highest risk are children, pregnant women, those with existing health issues like heart and lung disease, obesity and diabetes and the elderly.
“Even though it’s rare, it’s really quite unusual that an otherwise healthy young person will get influenza and get so sick as to die but it happens,” he said.
And it happened at alarming rates in the 2017 - 2018 season.
Some possibly good news?
The Southern Hemisphere, which had a severe flu season just before the one here in the United States...is this year experiencing a more mild one.