Flu Near You activity map October 1st
Although influenza season often doesn’t get started in earnest until November or December, influenza circulates (albeit, often at low levels) all year round. The Flu Near You map at the top of the page shows only minor levels of flu activity around the nation right now, but that can change relatively quickly.
This year’s flu shot ought to provide better protection than we saw last year (particularly if you go with the quadrivalent vaccine, which covers 2 B strains), but it takes a couple of weeks after you get the shot before peak immunity develops.
Which makes it a good idea to get your flu shot earlier in the season, rather than waiting. I got my shot a couple of weeks ago (see #NatlPrep: Giving Preparedness A Shot In The Arm), and so my army of antibodies ought to be reaching their peak.
To put an accent on this point, today we’ve an early season report of a flu fatality from North Carolina’s Department of Health & Human Services .
Oct 1, 2015
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the state's first death from flu for the 2015-2016 influenza season. An adult in the western region of the state died last week of complications from an influenza infection. (To protect the family's privacy, the person's hometown, county, age and gender are not being released.)
"We extend our deepest sympathies to the family," said Acting State Health Director Dr. Megan Davies. "We hope that by making people aware of this unfortunate case we will remind everyone that flu can be a serious disease and encourage people to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated."
The CDC recommends yearly vaccination against the flu for everyone 6 months and older. "It's not too early to get the flu vaccine. Getting your shot now will protect you through the entire season, so it's important not to wait." said Dr. Davies.
According to studies cited by the CDC (link is external) there are several benefits from vaccination, including the following:
- Protecting people who are at greater risk of getting seriously ill from flu, like older adults, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (including obesity) and young children.
- Making illness milder if you do get sick and reducing the risk of more serious outcomes, like hospitalizations and deaths.
- Protecting women during pregnancy and protecting their babies until they are old enough to get vaccinated themselves.
Other precautions you can take to protect against the spread of flu and other viruses include:
- Staying home when you are sick until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours;
- Washing your hands frequently, preferably with soap and water; and
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then discarding the tissue promptly.
For more information on flu and to find out where you can get a flu vaccination in your community, visit www.flu.nc.gov (link is external).
Every year about this time I urge my readers to consider taking part in the Flu Near You project, a partnership between HealthMap (healthmap.org), Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund. This year will begin my 5th year of participation.
The concept is simple.
And participation is easy. Once a week you receive an email with a link. Click on it, and you will be presented with a quick questionnaire.
With luck, all you have to do is click the last option. But if you did have symptoms, you simply click the ones that apply.
Given the wealth of data it produces, I would encourage my readers to check out the Flu Near You site, and consider taking part in this worthwhile project.