On December 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Morbidity and Mortality Week Report (MMWR): “Update: Influenza Activity – United States, October 1 – November 25, 2017.
The most recent influenza (flu) data reported through week 47 (November 19-25, 2017) indicate that flu activity in the United States began to increase in November and continues to increase each week. Influenza A (H3N2) has been identified as the predominant virus in the United States, and past years have shown that H3N2-predominant seasons are associated with greater severity. As flu data can be difficult to predict, it is not possible to say when the 2017-2018 flu season will peak or how severe it will be in the United States. Though data indicate that flu vaccine effectiveness may vary dependent on the virus, it is important to communicate that vaccine offers the best way to prevent flu infection and to reduce the risk of serious flu complications.
As we are in the midst of another flu season, the CDC emphasizes the following key messages:
- Flu activity is increasing – it’s not too late to get vaccinated! CDC recommends that anyone 6 months of age and older who has not been vaccinated this season should get a flu vaccination to protect themselves and loved ones.
- Vaccination of persons at higher risk for flu complications, such as young children, pregnant women, and the elderly, is especially important to decrease their risk of severe illness. Recent data indicate that approximately three out of five people in the United States have not yet received their flu vaccination, and that roughly two out of three pregnant women have not received a flu vaccine this season.
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illness, doctors’ visits, flu-related hospitalizations, and missed work and school due to flu. The flu can be a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Anyone can get very sick from the flu, including people who are otherwise healthy.