Flu Epidemic Hits Hard

“I have never seen the CDC flu map entirely brown (widespread) across the United States at the same time before. This is a flu epidemic,” said Jeanette Pasche, RN-BC, Infection Preventionist at Glacial Ridge Health System and board certified in infection control. “Usually, the flu starts in the southeast, and by the time it has spread to the rest of the country, the south is starting to recover already,” she reported.

The CDC website is updated weekly, showing the current status of the flu across the U.S. The video on the page shows how it has spread across the U.S. since the flu season began in October 2017. “The flu hit fast and hard — most of the lab confirmed viruses are influenza H3 which has traditionally been a more severe season,” Jeanette asserted.

Why the Flu Shot Still Matters This Year

“Influenza vaccination is expected to be about 30-40% effective at preventing the flu this season; however, even in vaccinated individuals who do get the flu, vaccination has been shown to reduce the severity of the disease and mortality for those at higher risk. Potential complications from the flu include pneumonia, heart attack, and stroke,” stated Jeanette. For those who are at high risk and can’t get a flu vaccination, their family and the majority of their community being vaccinated provides some protection. It reduces the risk that the flu strain will be as prevalent, in turn, lowering their risk of getting the flu.

While it takes two weeks for the vaccine to be effective, it is still worthwhile to get vaccinated mid-season, even during a flu epidemic and even if you’ve already had the flu. There are multiple strains of flu that circulate every year, and infection with one strain does not provide protection against the others. The vaccine protects against all of the expected strains this season. The flu season typically peaks in the spring so we have several more months of it being spread.

Pregnant? The Flu Shot Protects Your Baby Too!

Getting the flu vaccine when pregnant is one of the most important things mothers-to-be can do. The influenza vaccine is safe to get during any trimester for most pregnant women and protects both mom and unborn baby — there are some surprising reasons why that you may not have heard about.

Additional Resources:

When to Get Medical Help for Flu Symptoms – from the MN Dept. of Health