Influenza’s Influence This Season


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A mug sits on a table, along with tissues and glasses.

Influenza, or better known as the flu, is a highly contagious viral infection of respiratory passages causing fever, severe aching, and catarrh (mucus buildup), often occurring in epidemics. This year is the first since 2009 where influenza has had an extreme outbreak. Although people are getting vaccinations, almost nothing seems to work against this strain.

According to the CDC, millions of people get the flu every year. The flu is most commonly severe in elders and young children, and the vaccine is typically around 60% effective against the virus. However, this year it is only about 36% effective, even though the CDC thought it would be 40% effective at the beginning of the year. This is due to doctors having little time to develop a new vaccination for the new strains, resulting in a delayed creation time.

Last season, the flu shot was about 50% effective, which is decent, considering an above-average season is only about 60% effective. Over 200 thousand people were hospitalized because of the flu, and nearly 36 thousand people died.

This year isn’t the first time the flu has been as bad as it is now. In 2004, the flu shot was only 10% effective, during which a new strain of the flu was discovered where doctors didn’t have much time to develop a vaccine because of how different it was from all of the previous strands.

Recognizing the flu is important. If someone begins to represent signs of a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches, or a fever, see a doctor immediately, even if that person has had a flu vaccine. Do not wait until the patient has the flu to see a doctor, considering how deadly and dangerous it is this year. If it is already in their system, they could be at high risk and should see a specialist right away.