Flu Season 2017-18 Already “Tough,” Likely To Worsen
Recent articles in newspapers and stories on TV indicate that the current flu season is “off to a tough start and likely to get more serious,” according to the NBC Nightly News on December 8.
Because the specific virus that appeared during the flu season in Australia is the same flu virus circulating in the United States, health officials worry that the flu season 2017-18 will be severe. So far, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta report that five children have died due to the flu in the United States this season.
According to the CDC website:
Getting an yearly flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.
What viruses are in the 2017-18 flu vaccine? There are two major flu viruses – A and B. The three virus vaccine (called Trivalent) includes: A Influenza/Michigan; A Influenza/Hong Kong; and B Influenza/Brisbane. A four virus vaccine adds B Influenza/Phuket (called Quadrivalent).
When Should I Get Vaccinated? Now! It is best to get the “flu shot” before flu begins to spread in your community. It takes about 2 weeks after the shot to develop antibodies in the body that protect against the flu virus.
What If I Am Allergic to Eggs? For those truly allergic to eggs, there is a flu shot grown in cells rather than eggs. This avoids the concern about a life-threatening reaction in those with egg allergies.
What Is Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine? For this flu season, there is a flu vaccine containing an adjuvant for adults 65 years of age or older. It is called FLUAD™. An adjuvant is an ingredient added to the vaccine to create a stronger immune response.
How Long Does the Flu Vaccine Protect Me? Although antibodies to the flu virus decline over time, you are protected throughout the flu season with one shot.
How Effective Will The Flu Vaccine Be This Season? In general, flu vaccines reduce the risk of flu illness by about 40% to 60% among the overall population. In Australia during the recent flu season, it is estimated only 10% vaccine effectiveness against one flu virus (the H3N2 virus). In the US last flu season, the overall effectiveness against the circulating flu viruses was 39%.
What Else Can I Do To Prevent Flu This Season? In addition to getting a seasonal flu vaccine, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people, and washing your hands to reduce the spread of viruses. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands. If you are sick with flu, stay home to prevent spreading flu to others. In addition, there are antiviral medications can be used to treat flu illness.
Can The Flu Be Treated? There are prescription medications called antiviral drugs for treating the flu this winter. Anyone with COPD is considered to be “high risk.”
You should contact your health care provider as soon as symptoms start. Tamiflu is an antiviral pill that is used to treat acute, uncomplicated illness due to influenza A and B infection if you have symptoms of the flu for less than 48 hours. When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you feel sick by 1 or 2 days. Tamiflu can also prevent serious complications like pneumonia.