Will County Health Department: 2017-2018 flu season

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Michael Wiese, an epidemiologist for the Department of Health in Hillsborough County, said while flu seasons can be hard to predict, this year's strain could be concerning.

The numbers show this is already a more active flu season.

Unlike other vaccines - such as childhood immunizations, which are effective 95 per cent of the time - the flu shot efficacy does vary. Since October 1, the weekly percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza has ranged from 5.7% to 6.2%, which has not exceeded the epidemic threshold of 6.5%.

This flu season is beginning earlier than the previous couple of years, which had unusually late starts. "Every year, we see hospitalizations and deaths from the flu here in our region".

"They have a less tropical climate, one that's more like ours", Patel said in a news release.

"Flu is a very serious illness, and it is crucial that everyone is protected", said Jamie Swift, director of infection prevention for MSHA.

"Right now we still need to encourage everyone who has not received a flu vaccine to get it, and to get it as soon as possible because we are seeing high activity levels of flu like illnesses in Louisiana", Lopez urged.

The flu season is declared under-way once we have reached an above-average number of people with influenza symptoms (i.e. more than 2.2 percent of people).

In addition to getting the vaccine, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with sick people, washing your hands often with soap and water and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

The flu vaccine might not be as effective this year against a common and virulent strain, H3N2, but local public health officials say that's no reason to abandon the shot altogether.

News reports that the flu vaccine is only 10 percent effective, may have you thinking why even bother getting the shot.

Mandel says it's hard to know what's behind the spike.

The Health District keeps a list online of pharmacy and drugstore locations where flu shots are available. Instead, the flu vaccine acts by allowing your immune system to create the ability to fight the flu in case you are exposed.

So to verify, it is still unknown how effective the vaccine will be in the USA, but it will help. "Most people have no reaction at all, other than mild soreness in the arm where the shot was administered".

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