Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, who asked Americans to get flu shots during one of the most severe flu seasons in years said, of the 30 U.S. so far this season children who have died from the flu, some 85% had not been vaccinated.
Fitzgerald said, “My message is, whether you haven’t received a vaccine, please get a vaccine. Also, please get a vaccine for your children”. She asked citizens “to take every advantage that you can to ensure yourself.”
The predominant strain during this flu season is an especially nasty type called influenza A (H3N2) that in seasons past has been linked with severe disease and death, especially in the elderly and young.
The seasonal flu epidemic is especially severe. In its most recent report, the CDC said the virus is present in every state, with 32 states reporting severe flu activity.
In spite of the fact that the vaccine is only estimated to be around 30% effective against the H3N2 strain, it has been appeared in studies to reduce severity and duration if individuals do become infected.
The flu vaccine in Australia in Australia was only 10% effective may have caused individuals to think the vaccine would not be worth the trouble, said Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She said the agency’s flu division has been at work during the three-day federal government shutdown. Studies have demonstrated that even a vaccine that has lower overall effectiveness can decrease the number of days spent in the hospital, duration of this flu, and the degree of symptoms.
Jernigan said, “That helps the point of getting a vaccine”. Fitzgerald said this flu vaccine and antiviral drugs used to fight the flu are widely available the country over, taking note of that individuals can go to the CDC site and enter their zip code to discover the nearest flu clinics with vaccines.
Fitzgerald also recommended that individuals frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, avoid those who are sick or coughing and carry disinfectant wipes.
The CDC does not have numbers for adult deaths from the flu because adult flu isn’t a reportable disease in all U.S. states.
Official estimates from the CDC are expected at the end the finish of the current season, based on a calculation of hospitals and states reporting information to the agency.
In the 2014/2015 flu season, in which the H3N2 strain was also the main strain, there were an expected 35.6 million cases, 710,000 hospitalizations, and 56,000 deaths. Now, it isn’t clear whether the current flu season will surpass those estimates, Jernigan said.