FRIDAY, Feb. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Though much of the United States is in the grip of the flu, the season hasn’t peaked yet, health officials said Friday.
As of Feb. 2, flu is widespread in 47 states, and 24 states are experiencing high levels of the disease. In addition, hospitalizations are increasing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Flu activity has continued to increase this week,” said Lynnette Brammer, the lead of CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team.
The most common type of flu around is still the influenza A strain H1N1. But it may be waning, Brammer said, as the level of influenza A H3N2 has increased.
Both of these flu strains are in this year’s vaccine, but while the H1N1 component is up to 65 percent effective, the effectiveness of the H3N2 is far less, according to the CDC.
Even though it is nearly mid-February, the flu season is expected to continue for several more weeks, probably well into March, Brammer said.
“There’s still a lot more flu season to come,” she said. “I expect activity to continue for several more weeks.”
That’s why she’s urging anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to get a flu shot. “It’s not too late,” Brammer said.
An underrated benefit of the vaccine is that even if you get sick, your flu will be milder than if you haven’t been vaccinated. A milder flu can prevent complications like pneumonia that can be deadly, especially to the very young and very old.
Brammer also stressed that getting vaccinated not only protects you, but those around you, as well.
According to the CDC, flu activity is high in New York City, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
It’s still too early to tell how severe this season will be, Brammer said. So far, the season has been much less severe than last year when the H3N2 virus predominated. Last year, flu sent nearly 1 million Americans to the hospital and killed about 80,000.
Originally Published 2019-02-08 20:15:20