The flu season is exceptionally active and will most likely worsen. Preparations are in place at our clinic. We have extra medical providers available for walk-in urgent needs for weekdays and weekends. Working late into the night, we are on the ready!
This year, approximately 80% of flu cases are the H3N2. A dangerous type of Flu A strain (there are primarily A and B strains), H3N2 infection can be deadly to young infants and children and the elderly or immunocompromised.
Flu shots are highly encouraged this year. Unfortunately, the flu shot may only be about 10% effective against H3N2 virus. The vaccine’s lack of efficacy is not due to changes in the genetics of the flu, but to changes in the virus “seed” used in the vaccine preparation. Apparently as the laboratory flu virus grew in eggs, it picked up mutations foreign to human flu (per Dr Fauci in The New England Journal of Medicine 2018).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that flu kills 12,000-56,000 Americans annually (number depends on the severity of the flu outbreak). Despite issues with the flu shot, it has good coverage for other types of flu viruses. In addition, even if you get the flu, you can catch other flu viruses, so protection is needed.
There is medication that can be used to decrease severity, contagiousness, and days of illness (Tamiflu). Just be sure it IS the flu. We are seeing other viral illnesses and strep throat. It is generally BEST to be seen and not managed over the phone. Complications of the flu, including pneumonia, are not uncommon.
Most of all, don’t let the flu get you! Careful handwashing and avoid sharing eating utensils with sick people. If you have the flu, stay home until you are fever-free for at least 24- 48 hours and/or symptom-free for several days. If you have further questions, please consult your medical provider.