Flu season off to an early - and nasty - start

Flu-shot-6-1

Serious complications of flu include a painful ear infection, acute bronchitis and pneumonia.

Twenty-three flu cases were reported to the Yakima Health District in the last week alone.

The widespread presence of flu, she said, has been declared three weeks earlier than it was in 2016.

She said getting that yearly flu shot is your best weapon. "Then, since it was new, we did not know if the H1N1 symptoms would be normal, or something more severe".

Louisiana and MS are still experiencing a high number of people with the flu. However, only about one-third of those tested to be actual cases of the flu, and almost all of those confirmed flu cases were indeed one of the three strains targeted by the current flu shot serum.

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"They can go, here at the health department", said Roberts.

The vaccine also takes about two week to provide full protection against the flu so it's advised you get a shot sooner rather than later.

Health officials say the United States could have a harsher than usual flu season, and is already showing influenza activity above the national baseline for the first time this season.

"Which is 11 per cent higher than the similar period last year or the year before that when 225,000 had been given", Shahab said.

Health officials like Maggie Hall, with the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, say that could be an early indication of a more severe influenza season early next year. "Typically, we don't see flu starting to arrive in Pima County until February or March".

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What's more, American vaccine manufacturers look at the strain hitting Australia when producing the vaccines for the US, but that strain can mutate within the six to eight months the USA industry needs to produce the vaccines.

"A universal vaccine would use conserved proteins of the virus - so it wouldn't change - or would change very little and then we would have the immunity for a long time", said Dr. Dana Hawkinson with the University of Kansas Health System. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every season.

Australia's most recent flu season - which typically sets a pattern for what the US will face - was particularly rough and the flu vaccine was only 10 percent effective there.

Many GP practices hold large flu vaccination clinics. "Most people have no reaction at all, other than mild soreness in the arm where the shot was administered".

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