(CNN) After a good slow begin in October, flu period in the United States is gaining speed, particularly found in the South.
Flu activity, which includes been increasing since the start of November, is currently higher than usual for this time of year, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flu is a good contagious, viral illness that causes mild to extreme symptoms that, found in rare cases, can result in death. Five kids have died, and an additional 566 flu-related hospitalizations have occurred as of November 25.
“Flu is increasing. We’re seeing a pretty steep increase in influenza activity across the US but specifically in the South,” explained Brendan Flannery, a co-author of the new report and an epidemiologist in the CDC’s flu division.
Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Oklahoma reported widespread activity through the week ended November 25, the report stated.
“We recommend that for everyone 6 months and older, if you haven’t received your vaccine however, now is the time to obtain it,” explained Shannon Stokley, a co-employee director for science in the immunization solutions division at the CDC.
Despite this guidance, less than 50 % of Americans have received a jab this year. Common concerns give attention to efficacy of the vaccine and unwanted effects.
“Among the general population, about 39% have received the vaccine,” explained Stokley, co-author of a new CDC report that canvased persons by phone and internet in early November.
Gurus believe the flu virus is spread when a ill person talks, sneezes or perhaps coughs. Common symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fever and chills, muscles and body aches, headaches and fatigue. Most persons recover in under two weeks.
However, mainly because Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, described, the flu has probably serious complications such as for example pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections.
“Anything that that can be done to help prevent your family from obtaining the flu is quite beneficial,” explained Altmann, who was simply not involved in the CDC research. Her assistance includes the CDC advice to acquire a flu shot, but she as well adheres to low-tech methods of contagious disease avoidance: “good hand-washing methods, teaching kids never to show their germs, staying home when you’re sick and disinfecting common surfaces,” she said.
Infants and pregnant women, particularly those found in the next and third trimesters, are actually most susceptible to developing complications, according to the CDC.
“We have most evidence that the vaccination protects the woman from influenza herself, and it can protect the newborn in the six months of life from having influenza before we are able to vaccinate the newborn,” Flannery said. Both CDC and the American College or university of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend flu pictures for all women who happen to be or will get pregnant through the flu season.
Many mothers-to-be, though, have not heeded these suggestions.
Are pregnant women getting ‘appropriate’ care?
Only one-third of pregnant women have received a flu shot, even though the overwhelming majority of them visited a health care provider at least once, according to another fresh CDC analysis of data collected from an internet survey conducted through the 1st week of November.
More than a quarter of pregnant women reported that medical staff did not recommend or give a flu shot.
“It makes me just a little sad that people across the country — especially pregnant women — may not be obtaining the recommended and appropriate healthcare,” Altmann said.
Coverage was first highest for pregnant women whose doctors recommended and offered the vaccine: Just over half of women in this category had received a go.
Unwanted effects and vaccine efficacy
The CDC — which lists sore or swollen arms, hoarseness, sore eyes, cough, fever and aches among the most frequent unwanted effects — notes that these effects “are usually mild and go away on their own.” Extremely rare extreme allergic reactions may also occur, according to the CDC.
Among health care personnel who declined the vaccine, the most frequent reason is fear of experiencing unwanted effects or getting unwell from the vaccine.
Not really everyone agrees that the flu shot is one of the better ways to protect families preventing serious complications, including Dr. Erika Schwartz, an internist and founder of a medical practice in New York City that focuses on wellness and disease avoidance.
Schwartz, who was simply not involved in the CDC reports, said some of her patients take the flu shot, but others usually do not.
“Some people believe the possible unwanted effects outweigh the positives that they get from prevention,” she explained. Some patients believe they can protect themselves by boosting their immune systems, eating well and making sure they sleeping better, she said.
“Everybody’s risk differs,” Schwartz said. Flannery explained highest-risk patients are the elderly, pregnant women and infants, and persons who have underlying conditions, such as for example lung or heart conditions.
And the vaccine is no guarantee of security. Previous year’s flu vaccine performance was merely 42%, the CDC approximated this year, while preliminary estimates posted in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that this year’s vaccine may be just 10% effective.
Flannery explained that the journal document looked at Australia’s latest flu period and highlights the low vaccine effectiveness against a single kind of influenza: the H3N2 stress predominating in america today. The article’s authors as well mentioned that “the vaccine avoided about a third of most illness by all of the types of flu,” Flannery said. “There’s still some security against all flu illness in Australia last period.
“We do visit a predominance of the H3N2 virus that was common last period,” Flannery explained. “H3N2 seasons have been more severe when it comes to hospitalization and death, specifically in the elderly and young children; that is clearly a concern.”
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Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease consultant at Vanderbilt University, explained that vaccine effectiveness isn’t a simple measure.
“Whenever we measure vaccine performance, that’s effectiveness against avoiding disease completely,” explained Schaffner, who was simply not involved in the CDC research, though he is a liaison representative of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Procedures, which develops recommendations on the use of vaccines for the CDC.
“What’s not measured is definitely that, whether or not you get the flu in spite of the vaccine, your flu circumstance may very well be milder; you’re less inclined to have the difficulties of pneumonia, having to get hospitalized and dying,” he said.