Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Early flu season could leave more North Dakotans sick

Early flu season could leave more North Dakotans sick

Winter is in the air and so is flu season, especially in the South.

"You will not get the flu from the vaccine". As health officials rushed to contain the outbreak, the CDC admitted that the 2014 flu vaccine did not protect well against H3N2 - it had just seven percent chance of protection.

There are also concerns that this year's flu shot may not be all that effective in preventing the respiratory illness.

"Our vaccine is the same as the one used in Australia", said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the influenza division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The flu season is declared under-way once we have reached an above-average number of people with influenza symptoms (i.e. more than 2.2 percent of people).

At the end of its flu season in mid-August, Australia had more than 93,000 laboratory-confirmed cases - nearly 2.5 times the number of infections and double the number of hospitalizations and deaths compared to the previous year, the country's disease surveillance system reported. Children, pregnant women, and those 65 and older are at particular risk, as are those with chronic lung conditions.

Among health care workers who declined the vaccine, the most common reason is fear of experiencing side effects or getting sick from the vaccine.

However, doctors insist we can not underestimate the importance of "herd immunity", and that the shot may be more effective as lessening illness in those who do get sick.

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Schwartz, who was not involved in the CDC reports, said some of her patients take the flu shot, but others do not. "So if you need to be out and about running errands and meeting up with friends and family, it's wise to protect yourself-and them-as best you can". "Many are hospitalized and some die".

Experts warn this could be an early sign that the United States faces the same fate as Australia, which had one of its worst outbreaks on record, with two and a half times the normal number of cases.

After receiving vaccine donations from civic organizations, the CDC on Friday last week announced the plan to administer government-funded vaccines to infants born after January 1 who are older than 12 months after January 1 next year.

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