Health Services Response to This Year's Flu Season

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CDC To Announce New Nationwide Flu Stats Friday

Influenza B and influenza A (H3N2) are now the main flu viruses circulating with more influenza B reported. "If 50 percent of the population were protected, one way or another, we could essentially prevent an influenza epidemic", he said.

What that number means is that if you are vaccinated and you run into a flu virus, you have a 64 percent chance of getting sick.

Adults who get a flu shot are 36 percent less likely to get the disease, while for children the figure was an unexpectedly high 59 percent, USA health officials said on Thursday, predicting that the current "intense" season could continue for weeks. The numbers were worse for H3N2.

Federal health officials urged Americans repeatedly to get a flu vaccine.

Visit KnockOutFlu.org for places to get your vaccine, weekly flu activity updates, and frequently asked questions and concerns about the flu vaccine. "Some protection's better than no protection". County health offices offer the vaccine at no charge to those who are uninsured. "It's better than nothing", she said. "Influenza-related illness is identified and responded to using best practices". And it was 42 percent effective against Type B flu viruses.

Though there were 516 influenza-like-illness cases reported at this time past year in the county, only 5,417 cases were reported statewide, a little more than half of this season's state total.

And according to Morse, who says he has a flu shot every year, even half the country having the vaccine may be enough, making the shot not only worthwhile but important.

But some researchers say part of the problem is tied to how 85 percent of the nation's flu vaccine doses are made.

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While older individuals and parents of young children are often more sensitive to their risk from the flu, younger, healthier people may be prone to underestimating the severity of their infection. People's response to flu, he said, seems to be primed by the first type of flu we encounter as children.

Flu has been particularly widespread this year, at times affecting virtually all of the United States.

Still, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated, even at this point in the year, because some protection is better than none. Among the 54 whose vaccination status was known, 74 percent had not been vaccinated.

Reports from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) indicate 3,440 flu-associated hospitalizations, and 153 deaths statewide since the season began in September.

But the flu is spreading like wildfire this season. Seniors aged 65 and older saw their risk of needing medical care for flu cut by 17 percent, and in adults 50 to 64 - an age group with an unusually high hospitalization rate this winter - the H3N2 component's effectiveness was 10 percent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the season has not yet reached its peak.

Calling it "an above-average season", Ashley Waite, Lewis County's public health nurse, said there's been an increase of reported flu cases during the past two weeks. In 2009, 15 were reported.

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