Though flu season has probably peaked, beware: Influenza is still widespread in much of the United States, federal health officials said Friday.
“This week activity decreased a little bit, but flu is going to be around for a while,” said Lynnette Brammer, from the domestic flu reconnaissance team at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Making matters worse, the predominant strain is influenza A H3N2, the most serious type, and it’s putting older Americans in the hospital, she said.
How much longer flu season will last depends on how long the H3N2 virus sticks around, and if influenza B viruses start to spread, Brammer said. Right now, B viruses are causing only a small percentage of flu cases.
In spite of the fact that the current year’s influenza hasn’t been as awful as last year’s, it’s still been an severe season, not the mellow one health officials had sought after. It will even now be a long time before influenza drops to levels required for the CDC to declare the season over.
At the end of the day, there’s still time to get an influenza shot on the off chance that you haven’t done as such as of now, Brammer said.,”There’s still a benefit from getting vaccinated.”
That is particularly vital in case you’re in a high-risk group, for example, the older, she said. Seniors are particularly susceptible to H3N2 and its complications, including pneumonia.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated. There’s still plenty of vaccine available, Brammer said.
And remember: Even if you get the shot for this flu season, you’ll still need to get vaccinated in the fall, she said.
That’s important because next year’s vaccine is different from this year’s. Both influenza A strains — H3N2 and H1N1 — have mutated, and the new vaccine has been tweaked to address these changes, Brammer said.
The two strains were included the current year’s vaccine, but the H3N2 protection has been less than hoped, according to the CDC.
A misjudged advantage of the immunization is that regardless of whether you become ill, your influenza will be milder than if you haven’t been vaccinated. A milder case can forestall complexities like pneumonia that can be deadly, especially to the very young and very old.
While CDC doesn’t follow adult deaths from influenza, it keeps tabs on children. A week ago, one more kid died from flu, bringing the total nationwide to 77.
Influenza stayed far reaching in 34 states and Puerto Rico, according to CDC. Fourteen states reported regional outbreaks, and the District of Columbia and two states had local flu activity.
If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza can make your illness less severe. But if you’re sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home so you don’t infect others.