Don't underestimate flu - that's the message as new vaccine becomes available

Don't underestimate flu - that's the message as new vaccine becomes available

With the memory of last year's deadly flu season still fresh in everyone's memory, the CDC is already urging people to plan their vaccinations.

But Dr. Robert Strang said the jump in deaths was normal, although on the high end.

Last year, Central Georgia was hit hard, but the agency is saying now is the time to get your flu shot before the virus starts to spread.

The Washington Post reported in February on the 36-percent success rate and said it dropped to 25 percent in the USA against the "most virulent and predominant strain" known as H3N2. If an individual is exposed to the virus in this time, they may develop the flu, despite having been vaccinated against it.

Among parents with children younger than 18 who were not immunized last year, 26 percent said their children will be vaccinated this year, according to the survey. "For example, during the 2016-2017 influenza season, CDC estimates that flu vaccine prevented an estimated 5.3 million illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits, and 85,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza".

"We are fortunate that we did not have any children die previous year from influenza, which we've had in the past", said Strang.

"It was a rough year, whether you got the shot or not".

That number has a lot of room for improvement, said Strang.

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Adults with chronic conditions need the flu vaccine because people with respiratory diseases like COPD, emphysema or asthma are seven times more likely to die if they catch flu, and people with cardiovascular problems like chronic heart disease or angina, or have had a stroke, are 11 times more likely to die.

While the flu vaccine is not a flawless defense against the flu, it is still the best way to get protected against flu infection.

Dr. Katherine O'Brien, who was awarded the Canada 150 Research Chair in Vaccinology and Global Health at Dalhousie University and is to begin work at the university on December 1, said the complexity of influenza strains makes matching vaccinations hard.

"It's like the virus wears a coat and it can change, just like we have more than one coat", said the world-renowned vaccine expert, now in Baltimore, Md.

"They went back and they reformulated the vaccine.Tthey put a different H1N1 strain in this new one". But another season is also arriving soon and it's time to prepare says an Oneida County Community Health Specialist.

"There were certainly thousands of positive flu tests between the two facilities; Coliseum, and Coliseum Northside", Dykes said. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.

The province's flu shot, free for all Nova Scotians, will be available this fall. The WHO makes recommendations for the composition of the northern hemisphere flu vaccine every year; and this is published six months in advance to allow for vaccine production times.

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