Last Modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 6:03 PM
The bad news is that flu season is upon us and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the worst of the outbreak to soon be upon us. But the good news is you can still get a flu shot if you haven’t already done so. The shot is said to be particularly effective against the particular strain of the influenza virus currently causing all the misery.
CDC’s influenza statistics for the final two weeks of 2012 show that between the dates of Dec. 16-22, 6,234 Calcasieu residents with influenza-like symptoms, with 1,846 or 29.6 percent of those people testing positively for influenza.
A week later, Dec. 23-29, 9,363 people displayed flu-like symptoms, with 2,961 or 31.6 percent of them testing positively for influenza, making a 50 percent increase of suspected cases in one week.
Bridget Boudreaux said that this year’s flu season has been the most active she has ever seen during her three year tenure as infection control manager for Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
It is not uncommon for people who have received a flu shot this year to still contract the illness, Boudreaux said, although it still stands as the best form of defense against the virus.
“Vaccines are manufactured based on the previous flu season and changes each year based off the previous year’s reported illnesses. Viruses mutate each year and just because we’ve vaccinated this year on what was most prevalent last year, doesn’t mean those viruses haven’t switched to a different strain that hasn’t been included in the vaccine — we’re not expecting that to happen this year but there’s always the potential,” she said.
People are also encouraged to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.
The CDC says the seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.
About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body.
While the flu shot may not be 100 percent effective, it greatly enhances your chances of avoiding getting sick with the flu. Since this year’s flu shot is reportedly a good match for this year’s virus and the flu season has not even reached it peak yet, don’t delay any further in getting your flu shot if you haven’t already done so.
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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.