by Kimberly Allen, RN
The flu has hit early and hard this year with five deaths already being reported. Flu season in the US is usually in January and February, however, the CDC reports that 48 states have already reported cases of the flu. Some states are reporting near peak number of cases. A hospital in Memphis has reported seeing in excess of 200 cases of flu in 1 week as well as admitting 8 to 10 children a day with severe symptoms.
The flu is caused by viruses, hundreds of them to be exact. Even though the flu viruses are divided into 3 types, influenza A, B and C there are numerous subtypes under each one. Every year researchers collect data from all over the world about the different flu viruses being reported including all new strains being seen. For example, in 2009 a new virus called H1N1 swine flu was discovered and in 2012 another new strain of flu called H3N2v was discovered. The researchers then take all the data they have collected and make their best educated guess as to which viruses are going to be prevalent and then create a vaccine against the 3 strains the feel will have the greatest potential to cause significant illness. This year the predominant strain of flu going around is H3N2 which tends to cause more severe illness. It is also the type responsible the last tome the flu season began this early in the 2003-2004 flu season. Fortunately it appears that this year the vaccine is a god match for the strains that are going around.
The CDC reports that approximately 112 million Americans have gotten their annual flu vaccine, however, that represents only about 37% of those that are eligible to receive the vaccine. The CDC also reports there is plenty of vaccine available for those that want it. Anyone over 6 months is eligible to receive the vaccine. Health officials state that it’s very important that children get vaccinated. Children not only pass the virus amongst themselves they bring it home and into the community. Seniors and people that suffer from chronic diseases have a significant risk of developing more severe illness as well as complications. Just because the flu season has already begun it doesn’t mean it’s too late for you to get your flu shot.
I know there are those doubters out there that don’t trust or believe the CDC. However, the facts are that the flu costs over $10 billion a year in the US. That is both direct costs, medical treatment and lost work, as well as indirect cost, prevention. The flu also results in approximately 30,000 deaths every year. These are statistics that the CDC receives from Drs and health officials around the country and then they comprise all the information and report the figures. And these figures are just from an average flu season, if there should be a pandemic the costs both economically and in lives will bee significantly higher, Some estimate as much as $700 billion.
So whether you like or approve of the CDC or not get you flu shot and have your children vaccinated. Is it really worth the life of your child or someone you love? Many people think it can’t happen to them and I’m sure the family members of those that have already or been hospitalized would tell you, you’re wrong, it can happen to anyone at anytime.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.