Every year people want to know approaching flu season how effective the flu vaccination will be and how severe of a flu season it will likely be as well. At this point in the season, as we have yet to reach the peak of flu season, the prediction is that it will not be as severe of a season as it was last year, which was one of the highest severities of flu seasons in many years.
With the peak of this year’s flu season yet to come, it is difficult to predict exactly how effective the flu vaccine will be. No matter how close of a match the flu vaccine is to the actual viruses that are most common during this year’s flu season, the flu vaccine is always recommended by the CDC as it can still help by having similar antibodies already formed for your bodies protection when encountering the Influenza virus.
The most prevalent strain of the Influenza virus this year is the Influenza A(H1N1) virus except in the southeastern US where the Influenza A(H3N2) virus is most common. Influenza this year, according to the CDC, has reached the “widespread” status in 45 of 50 states as of January 26th, 2019.
So far, this season has seen an estimated 10.1-11.7million cases of the flu in the United States. 4.7-5.6million office visits for the flu and approximately 118,000-141,000 hospitalizations.
Of all medical office visits for this past week, the number of Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) has been reported at 3.5% of total visits. Last flu season, the number of ILI reached a peak of 7.5% keeping us well below the peak of last season; although, according to the CDC, the peak of this year’s flu season is yet to come and will likely arrive by the end of February.
The number of reported deaths from Pneumonia and Influenza has also not reached above the threshold for epidemic status. Since 2010, every flu season has seen between 4-16weeks above the threshold for epidemic status which can help to indicate the lesser severity of the flu season for 2018/19.
Even though this year’s flu season is not as severe as last years and has not seen numbers nearly as high as years past, still take precautions for the flu. If you do get sick with the flu, remember to avoid contact with people as much as possible as it can quickly and easily spread from person to person.