Flu season is already here with more than 6,900 hospitalizations and 360 deaths

You know all those questions about whether you should wait a few weeks before flu season starts to get your flu shot? Well, forget the wait. Flu season has already arrived in the United States, this year starting more than a month earlier than usual. And there are signs that the coming months could be a big flu for America. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) US weekly flu surveillance report called Fluviewthis season has seen at least 880,000 flu cases, 6,900 flu-related hospitalizations and 360 flu-related deaths, including one child so far in the United States. These figures far exceed the figures seen at the same time of year in 2021 and 2020. In fact, the cumulative hospitalization rate for the last week – the 42nd week of 2022 – was higher than the rate for the 42nd week. of any year since 2010.

Angela Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, tweeted about this bad start to the flu season — bad if you’re human but good if you’re the virus flu:

Rasmussen tweeted a tweet from Helen Branswell, Senior Writer for New statistics, which included a chart of flu-related deaths in children since fall 2019. Notice the green mound for winter 2019-2020, then the relative lack of green for winter 2020-2021, then a bit of green for winter 2021-2022. Expect things to potentially get really green on this chart in the wrong direction for the winter of 2022-2023 if nothing is done to protect people against the flu.

If you haven’t noticed the flu around you yet, it’s not like the flu virus is going to say, “look out, everyone, I’ve entered the building.” People can be infected with the virus, show no symptoms, but can still infect others. The CDC only counts cases reported from its selected sentinel surveillance sites and anything local officials can tell them. Many people who get the flu don’t end up reporting their case to the authorities. Instead, they suffer in silence while staying at home watching “Love Is Blind” on netflix or something like that.

In addition, not all regions of the country yet have the same level of influenza activity. So far, it has been highest in the southeastern and south-central United States. But the flu bug isn’t like that weekend in Las Vegas that involved a chandelier, a crowbar, and whipped cream. What happened in one place will not stay there. Expect influenza activity to steadily increase in the United States in the coming weeks.

Does this early start necessarily mean that the rest of the flu season will be particularly bad? No, like the TV show true blood demonstrated, a good start does not guarantee sustained high activity. But a number of factors portend an “I knew the flu was a problem” season. There’s the problem of everyone forgetting that Covid-19 is airborne. A lot of people seem to be throwing face masks on like they’re sunglasses or micro-sunglasses. Also, many places don’t seem to care about keeping their rooms well ventilated and filtering and purifying the air. These interventions and social distancing likely helped keep the 2020-2021 flu season virtually non-existent and the 2022-2022 season fairly mild.

At week 42, it was a very influenza A season, with 97.7% of samples tested containing influenza A strains. The most common specific strain was influenza A H3N2, present in 74.6 % of samples, followed by (H1N1)pdm09 in 25.4% of them. So far, this has been a not-too-B influenza season, with influenza B appearing in only 2.3% of the samples tested. Keep in mind that this distribution could very well change as the flu season plods along.

Catching the flu is definitely not the same as catching a cold. Compared to the common cold, which is usually self-limiting, perhaps leaving your head feeling like a hot pocket that’s been in the microwave too long, it’s common to have a “flu shook me all over” situation. the night “. The flu can really put you out of action for several days. In addition, there is always the risk of even more serious complications. Family physician Gretchen LaSalle, MD, tweeted a reminder that “I’m healthy” is no reason not to get a flu shot:

As you can see, LaSalle included a tweet from Families Fighting Flu, a nonprofit advocacy organization that describes itself as “dedicated to protecting children, families, and communities from the flu” and including “families whose loved ones suffered serious medical complications or died from the flu”. Their tweet mentions the tragic story of Brandon Gonzales who went from a healthy nine-year-old going go-karting and eating pizza to dying of the flu.

Getting vaccinated can not only prevent you from getting infected in the first place, but can also reduce the severity of your symptoms if you end up getting infected. Of course, the flu vaccine cannot provide 100% protection. Of course, getting vaccinated doesn’t mean it’s okay to dive into mosh pits with impunity or lick doorknobs. But as with clothing, some protection is better than no protection. During most influenza seasons, vaccine effectiveness tends to be at least 40%.

That’s why the CDC recommends that you get the flu shot every year, assuming you’re at least six months old. If you are less than six months old and reading this, you should wait until your immune system is more developed. But congratulations on your ability to read.

If you haven’t had your flu shot yet, there’s no need to wait any longer. It takes about two weeks for protection from the flu shot to kick in fully, so getting vaccinated now should protect you through National Clean Your Fridge Day on Nov. 15 and the Thanksgiving holiday the following week.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, you can get your flu shot and the Covid-19 vaccine at the same time as Norlaine Thomas, PhD, whose Twitter profile describes her as a “filmmaker, hockey player, mom, domestic goddess, political geek, writer,” tweeted:

Her reasons given for her and her husband to receive the Covid-19 booster and flu shots: “We did this because we are responsible adults and we trust science. We don’t want to get sick and we don’t want to risk making someone else sick. Imagine that. Take care of yourself and others.

Following the science is what will help get through this winter, which could be difficult from a respiratory virus standpoint with the Covid-19 coronavirus, influenza virus and other viruses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Ultimately, viruses don’t care about your ideology. They don’t care about your freedom. They just know that if you don’t protect yourself with vaccinations, face masks, hand hygiene and proper social distancing, they will have the freedom to put their nose and mouth at you.

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