Seasonal Flu Update

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January 21, 2013 by Beth Beck/CDC

Last year the flu season was very mild and some of us barely noticed. But this year the flu season started early and cases are more severe and have shown up in more than 41 states - with both peaking and waning of cases in some parts of the country.

Not too late to get vaccinated
Unfortunately, only 60 percent of Americans have not yet taken advantage of vaccination - but it is not too late. CDC recommends that individuals should still get their flu vaccination as soon as possible.

Vaccine moderately effective and can offer a milder case of flu
Although CDC reports that the effectiveness of the current vaccine is moderate, about 62 percent effective (similar to previous years), that still means that 62 percent of those that get vaccinated are protected. Also, flu vaccination, even with moderate effectiveness, has been show to offer other benefits, including reducing illness, antibiotic use, time lost from work, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Flu activity likely to continue for several more weeks
CDC predicts that flu season will continue for several more weeks since it has lasted for about 12 weeks for the past ten years and we will be starting week seven.

You can still infect others without symptoms
Research suggests that flu can be passed on 24 hours before any symptoms occur. Also, some people can be infected with the flu virus and have no symptoms at all or only respiratory symptoms without fever but still spread the virus to others.

Antiviral drugs can lessen the time you are sick
Antiviral drugs can lessen the time you are sick and prevent serious complications. Antiviral drugs are especially important for people who are very sick with influenza and who are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications, like young children, people 65 and older, people with certain underlying chronic and high risk conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, chronic heart disease), and pregnant women.
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