I was on a call with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this morning and they were updating people across the country. A 2017 study showed the flu vaccine can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza.
The Georgia Department of Public Health has reported 4 flu-related deaths in the state this flu season, one of those in Middle Georgia. A week earlier, there were 906 cases reported in Allegheny County and 318 in Westmoreland County.
In Travis County, at least seven people have died from the flu since the fall of 2017, according to Austin Public Health.
"If someone has flu symptoms but doesn't have insurance, they can still come to a CommUnityCare clinic and be seen", said CommUnityCare CEO Jason Fournier in the news release.
"We're seeing a very active flu season and early signs that the season may be severe", Dan Jernigan, MD, of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), said at a news briefing.
The prominent strain this year is AH3N2, which IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said is known to cause serious illness, hospitalization and deaths. The data comes from over 2,000 care providers like hospitals and clinics.
So far, Jernigan said, this year's season doesn't appear to be quite as bad as 2014-15. When H3 viruses are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more death.
H3N2 is one of the strains contained in this year's flu vaccine along with two or three others, depending on the vaccine. Dr. Johnny Walker with Access Health said never let an illness go unchecked. "Getting vaccinated is not just about protecting yourself, it also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions". Fitzgerald said manufacturers have produced and shipped over 151 million vaccines as of last month.
The study also found that vaccination in the current season only had no significant effect on severe cases of influenza. "That happens every year".
According to the report, the flu has the biggest influence on people over the age of 65.
From Aug. 27, 2017, to January 6, the DPH said there have been a total of 1,015 laboratory samples that tested positive for the flu.