Preparing for the 2015-2016 flu season

By September 30, 2015Blog

'Flu Ahead' SignAs flu season starts, doctors are already seeing cases flood in. The flu reached epidemic levels last year and now the CDC is predicting between 5 and 20%  of people will get the flu this year. The U.S. was hit hard by the H3N2 strain, which wasn’t included in the vaccine. This year, the CDC says its more prepared.

Now you’re thinking, “Just how are they more prepared” 

How is the flu predicted?

The flu is hard to predict: new strains don’t give much advanced noticed. Doctors study what strains pop up in the southern hemisphere, and then prepare for similar strains to make their way here.

Despite the vaccine targeting the correct strains, the Southern hemisphere just went through one of the worst flu seasons on record. Using numbers from the southern hemisphere, we are pointed to a massive increase (31.9% rise) in sicknesses this year for the United States.

This would mean that their average prediction for US cases is 943,356, which is the worst since the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Last year there were 715,031 reported ILIs, and 2009 was the only year in a decade to crack 750,000.


Is this years flu shot effective and should you get it?

Last year’s vaccine was a dud (to say the least) A new strain of H3N2 influenza emerged after the vaccine was formulated, and the shot was a poor match. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted it did little to protect against flu.

This year’s vaccine has been designed to protect against the new H3N2 strain, and the CDC hopes it will be a good match for this year’s virus, although the agency admitted in a recent advisory that it’s impossible to predict the upcoming flu season.

So should you get the new vaccine? The CDC says “yes,”

The 2015-2016 flu vaccine protects against these three viruses:

  • A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus
  • A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. (This is a B/Yamagata lineage virus)

The flu shot contains antigens which are essential in helping your body develop immunity to the flu viruses.

It is best to receive the vaccine by October each year before the flu season is in full swing.  Early vaccination gives your body the chance to build-up immunity to the virus, providing you the greatest opportunity for defense.

While the No. 1 piece of advice any doctor will give you about flu season will be to get vaccinated before you get sick, it always happens the other way around for some people. However, unless you’re in particular danger from falling gravely ill from the flu, you don’t need to head to the ER. Even then, Coastal urgent care Louisiana may be able to do the job more efficiently and affordably.