Flu is here—and it’s a nasty one!
By Meredith Li-Vollmer
Public Health – Seattle & King County
Influenza is noticeably on the rise in King County, according the Public Health – Seattle & King County” sCommunicable Disease and Epidemiology unit.
Last week, the number of laboratory tests for flu rose sharply and a handful of schools, daycare programs, and long-term care facilities reported flu outbreaks.
A severe flu forecast
The flu season has only just begun, but the CDC is finding that so far, seasonal influenza A H3N2 viruses have been the most common flu viruses circulating. What’s the significance? In flu seasons in which H3N2 viruses predominate, there often are more severe flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.
On top of that, roughly half of the H3N2 viruses that the CDC analyzed to date are drift variants: viruses with genetic changes that make them different from this season’s vaccine virus. This means the vaccine’s ability to protect against those viruses may be reduced.
So should you still get this year’s flu vaccine? Continue reading
A community conversation sponsored by the Northwest Biomedical Research Association
Are Vaccinations ‘Everybody’s Business?’
Discussion of the locally-made documentary, “Everybody’s Business,” by Laura Green, which examines the small, tight-knit community of Vashon Island that has become a reluctant poster child for the growing debate around childhood vaccinations. This portrait of an island community digs beneath the surface to investigate the tensions between individual choices and collective responsibilities.
Tuesday night’s conversation will be facilitated by Dr. Doug Opel, Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
December 9, 2014
From 5:45pm to 7:45pm
415 Westlake Ave N.
Seattle, WA 98109
From the US Centers for Disease Control
After November when you see signs that advertise: “Get Your Flu Vaccine Here,” you might think, “Isn’t it too late for that?”
As long as flu viruses are spreading, it’s not too late to get a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.
“Flu season typically peaks between December and February but significant activity can occur as late as May,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now.”
For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. However, you may not realize that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year.
The flu also can be deadly. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of yearly flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people during the most severe season.
Early data suggests that the current 2014-2015 flu season could be severe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said Thursday, and they urged anyone who is still unvaccinated this season get vaccinated immediately.
People at high risk of complications who develop flu should receive prompt treatment with antiviral drugs, the agency said.
Here’s more from the CDC’s announcement:
By Dr. Kory B. Fowler
Medical Director, Intermountain Region
The influenza virus– commonly known as the flu – affects up to 20 percent of Americans annually, leaving more than 200,000 people hospitalized from complications each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The flu is particularly dangerous for Washington seniors, who often have pre-existing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
Last year the flu vaccine prevented 6.6 million illnesses, 3.2 million doctor visits and at least 79,000 hospitalizations.
Flu can be serious and deadly; get vaccinated now before people are sick
Flu season is upon us and although state health officials don’t know exactly when the flu will strike, how serious it will be or how long the season will last, they do know that it spreads every year and now is the time to get vaccinated against this serious, sometimes deadly virus.
“The first and most important thing you can do to protect yourself from flu is to get vaccinated every year,” says State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Flu vaccine is available now in most provider offices and pharmacies across the state and getting it now will provide protection throughout the season. It’s not too early.” Continue reading
By Milly Dawson
Health Behavior News Service
Nationality at birth appears to play a significant role in whether or not adults in the United States are routinely vaccinated for preventable diseases, a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds, reflecting a risky medical lapse for more than one in ten people nationwide.
Foreign-born adult U.S. residents, who make up about 13 percent of the population, receive vaccinations at significantly lower rates than U.S.-born adults.
Foreign-born adult U.S. residents make up about 13 percent of the population.
The study’s lead author, Peng-Jun Lu, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, noted the rise in the foreign-born population in the United States, which stood at only five percent in 1970.
“As their numbers continue to rise, it will become increasingly important to consider this group in our efforts to increase vaccination and eliminate coverage disparities,” he said. Continue reading
From the Washington State Department of Health
Immunization rates for Washington toddlers have improved from last year, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Survey.
The survey says 71 percent of kids under three years old in Washington got a series of recommended vaccines in 2013.
The state’s rate for the same series of vaccines in 2012 was 65 percent.
Pertussis vaccination still low and concerning in light of recent epidemic
For all vaccines counted, rates increased across the board except for DTaP, the vaccine that prevents pertussis (whooping cough).
This is especially concerning because of our state’s whooping cough epidemic in 2012. Continue reading
Feb 20, 2014
The flu hit younger- and middle-age adults hard this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday.
While the elderly tend to be most vulnerable to influenza, a large majority of those hospitalized with the flu this season, 61%, were people age 18-64 — a big jump from what was seen during the past three flu seasons in which people from this age group made up only about 35 percent of hospitalizations.
Influenza deaths this season are following a similar pattern, with people 25 years to 64 years of age accounting for about 60 percent of flu deaths compared with 18 percent, 30 percent, and 47 percent for the three previous seasons. Continue reading
By Milly Dawson
HBNS Contributing Writer
FEB 18, 2014
Antibiotics are often prescribed for young children who have upper respiratory tract infections (URIs) in order to prevent complications, such as ear infections and pneumonia, however, a new evidence review in The Cochrane Library found no evidence to support this practice. Continue reading
A Consumer Update from the FDA
February 4, 2014
Meant to get vaccinated in the fall to ward off the flu, but somehow didn’t get around to it?
Think it’s too late to get vaccinated now?
Not so. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaccinations can be protective as long as flu viruses are circulating.
And while seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity usually peaks in January or February, and can last well into May. Continue reading
From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Here are some things to know about the 2013-2014 flu season so far and steps you can take to protect yourself from flu. Continue reading
Flu is now widespread across the state and has caused at least nine flu deaths in Washington state since December, the Washington State Department of Health reported Wednesday.
It is likely the number flu deaths is higher because only laboratory confirmed cases must be reported to the state and in many cases laboratory testing is not done, health officials said. Continue reading