CDC: It definitely looks like flu season is here

Maxine SotoFeb 22, 2017

Reports of flu infections are rising, and Scotland County Health Department is urging residents to get vaccinated.

In the United States, the first canine flu vaccine was green-lighted in 2009, or around five years after the first canine-specific strain was found in Florida racing greyhounds and thousands of other dogs of other breeds in different states, Newsweek reported. However, it was shown to be 73 percent effective in fighting illnesses caused by the B strain of influenza. With weeks to go during the current flu season, vaccination at this time could still offer protective benefit. Those also peaked in early January and have dropped dramatically in the weeks since. "It's better to be protected and have 50 percent less chance of getting sick from the flu than to be completely vulnerable to the flu", said Jessica Rigler from the Arizona Heath Department.

Americans who rolled up their sleeves for a flu shot this year cut their chances of coming down with the aches and fever of influenza by nearly half, a level of protection that is disappointing for a vaccine but still better than in some recent years. For the week ended February 11, 5.2% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. according to CDC.

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The pattern this season is very similar to previous H3N2 seasons, according to Flannery, with higher hospitalization rates seen in the 65 and older population. "This vaccine is a much better match for the circulating virus than the vaccine we had two years ago".

With flu continuing to occur through this month and into March, there's still flu that can be prevented or made less severe, said Schaffner.

Some people get more protection from the flu shot than others.

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It's best to be vaccinated before the season, but the vaccine still can provide some protection after the season's peak, Duchin said.

"What you hope is that even though it didn't prevent the illness, it will prevent more severe outcomes", like hospitalization and death, Brammer says. "It shortens the duration of the influenza and it also makes it less likely you will spread that virus to the people around you". The vaccine is especially important for people at high risk for complications from the flu, which includes children younger than 2, pregnant women and people with preexisting conditions such as asthma, heart disease and weakened immune systems due to disease or medications such as chemotherapy or chronic steroid use. "It should be started as early as possible and shouldn't depend on whether someone was vaccinated or not".

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