It’s Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot: Talk to Your Patients Today
We are at the peak of flu season and too many people have not yet been vaccinated against influenza. Kayla Linton, an all-around healthy 17-year-old athlete and more than 15 children under 18 have died in this 2016 – 2017 flu season, and many more deaths are expected as the delayed reports come in to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Influenza is rapidly spreading in all 50 states. Prevalence of influenza -like illness is significantly higher than this time last year. In some regions, the percent of death certificates listing pneumonia or influenza as a contributing cause of death is above the epidemic threshold of 7.4 percent.
The most prevalent flu strain this year is an H3N2 virus that tends to cause the most severe illness among people over age 65 and young children. The good news is that the flu vaccine available this year is well matched to that virus and is effective. Ample supplies are available in pharmacies and clinics, and flu shots are recommended for everyone six months and older. Nasal flu vaccine is less effective so flu shots are required this season. It’s not too late to get the influenza vaccine to help protect us all this year.
On average, flu kills 36,000 and hospitalizes 200,000 each year in the US.
“If ever there was a season to get the flu vaccine, this is it” said Dr. Jerry Reeves MD, senior VP of medical affairs at HealthInsight and co-chair of the medical practice commission of Nevada State Medical Association. “The vaccine works, but we have widespread influenza activity in all of our states where we work with clinicians. We need our highly-trusted nurses, doctors and pharmacists to wield all the influence they can to notify their patients that now is the time to get your flu shot if you missed it this year.”
There are guides for preventing and treating flu available at no cost for clinicians, patients and caregivers at www.cdc.gov/flu.