Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Sullivan County offering free flu shots Friday

It's not too late to get a flu shot It's not too late to get a flu shot
Becky Salazar | 17 February, 2018, 01:10

The 2018 flu season is on par with the worst in recent history - the 2014 through 2015 flu season, according to Doctors Report Illness Tracker. It's 42 percent effective against influenza B viruses and 67 percent effective against H1N1 viruses, according to the results of a study involving about 4,600 people.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said children are 59 percent less likely to get the virus if they're vaccinated.

This season started early and has been driven by a formidable type of flu that tends to put more people in the hospital and cause more deaths.

The CDC said that the overall effectiveness of this year's vaccine is 36 percent.

The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses. The percentage of visits to emergency departments and admissions to hospitals from emergency departments continued to climb, though not as rapidly as in the previous week. That's no reason for health officials to celebrate yet: That level is among the highest in a decade. There are nearly 100 different known strains of pneumococcal bacteria-many more than are included in the vaccines. When well matched to circulating viruses, its effectiveness is about 60 percent.

Flu experts were quick to say the vaccines remain worthwhile.

"That's higher than we typically see for H3N2", said Ed Belongia, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Wisconsin.

Children's vulnerability is of special concern this season. At least 63 child flu deaths have been reported since October 1. States are not required to report adult flu deaths. The vaccine was only 25 percent effective against that type.

More than 61,000 Pennsylvanians have confirmed cases of the flu and 7.7 percent of Americans have sought the help of a health professional for flu-like illness.

Receiving a vaccination is key to decreasing the rate of infection, thereby giving researchers the time to develop effective antiviral therapies to treat those who are more vulnerable.

MA health officials say a child under 10 years old has died from the flu - the first pediatric influenza death in the state this year.

Free flu shots will be available at Parish Health units until supplies are depleted.

"My wife got nervous after learning about the death of a little girl from Golden Hill", Richard Kanan said.

So far, there have been more than 8,000 confirmed flu cases in the state this season.

"This flu season continues to be extremely challenging and intense", said Schuchat.

But even with all that, it's still a hard task to stave off the flu.

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