In a report that was published December 18 by Time, it was reported that the current vaccine may not be as effective for H3N2 because public health officials have to guess which strain of influenza will be the most aggressive in the coming flu season. People at higher risk are those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, children under age two and people over 65.
Seventeen flu-related deaths is drastically higher compared to a year ago at this time when Manitoba health reported one death. The flu season typically lasts from October through May.
"The manufacturers are reporting that they've shipped more than 151 million doses of flu vaccine so there should be product available to folks".
The Centers for Disease Control has reported 13-flu related deaths in children this season.
The Tennessee Department of Health is seeing increased reports of flu cases and other respiratory illnesses across the state and is urging Tennesseans to take measures to slow the spread of the virus.
"This flu season is going to be worse than previous year", said Coliseum Medical Centers Director of Infection Prevention, Brandi Jones. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
So far, influenza A viruses have been the type most commonly identified.
"This year, we've seen a mixture of A and B, so both young and old people being affected".
Goldman noted Friday while some media reports have characterized this year's vaccine as less effective in stopping H3N2, people should remember the shot can still help people who come down with illness from getting as sick. "The season has started early and is probably peaking right about now", he said.
A pharmacist prepares to inject a patient with a flu shot at the Brewer Walgreens in 2013.
Beside receiving the vaccine, the best ways to protect yourself and others is to wash your hands often, make sure you cough and sneeze into your arm and stay at home from school or work if you are sick.
"We think flu season will run for several more weeks", Safranek said. The last time the flu was this severe was three years ago.
We are likely in or entering the very worst of our flu season now, according to an infectious disease specialist with UPMC PinnacleHealth, so keep getting your rest and washing those hands.