Flu Season Expected To Be Nasty

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Fairfield Medical Center takes an aggressive stance about getting the word out regarding the importance of vaccinations, starting with providing flu information and an offer to administer the vaccination to every patient who is admitted to the center.

If you come down with symptoms matching the flu virus, the CDC says you should stay home and avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours or until your fever subsides.

Infants and pregnant women, particularly those in the second and third trimesters, are most vulnerable to developing complications, according to the CDC.

"We have some evidence that the vaccination protects the woman from influenza herself, and it can protect the infant in the six months of life from getting influenza before we are able to vaccinate the infant", Flannery said.

There's no telling when the season will arrive in full force this year, but warning signs are in the air.

Many mothers-to-be, though, have not heeded this advice.

It's a symphony of achoo out there and the best medical advice is that you should get the flu shot as early as you can. Schools are asked to report absenteeism when 10 percent or more of the total enrollment is absent on any given day.

An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce people's risk of getting sick with the flu and spreading it to others. In past years, the vaccine has run between 40 percent and 60 percent effective.

Winter is coming! It's time to line up and get your flu shot once again.

Fire danger to increase locally over the weekend
The humidity will drop into the 10-to-15 percent range at midday on Sunday, when the chance of wildfires will be greatest. The forecast for areas above 1,000 feet is for winds of 15 mph to 30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph.

While researchers reportedly are working on such a solution, Rupp said they will have to make some fundamental changes to produce a universal vaccine. That's the virus' way of evading our immune systems.

And the vaccine is no guarantee of protection.

Njoo says there are about 3,500 deaths and 12,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza each year in Canada, and the numbers may be on the rise this season. The article's authors also noted that "the vaccine prevented about a third of all illness by all of the types of flu", Flannery said.

"We do see a predominance of the H3N2 virus that was common last season", Flannery said. "H3N2 seasons have been more severe in terms of hospitalization and death, especially in the elderly and young children; that's a concern".

UNMC's Rupp said it's not yet clear whether the strain in this year's vaccine is going to be a good match for the strain that's circulating.

Vaccine effectiveness (VE) against H3N2 viruses also is typically lower than VE levels against influenza H1N1 and influenza B viruses.

"What we're ultimately looking for is a flu vaccine you can get once or twice in a lifetime", said Safranek, the state's epidemiologist.

Through mid-November, fewer than 2 percent of people reported flu-like illnesses at different surveillance sites across the state, according to Department of Health data. However, among people who go to a doctor's office, "it's very hard to show there's a reduction in severity".