How Does This Flu Season Compare to Others?

In following the news, it can be easy to get anxious over the 2017-2018 flu season. The picture seems alarming: Hospitals in Southern California have had to turn away patients, and otherwise healthy 21-year-old fitness buffs have succumbed to the disease. But is this flu season actually any worse than previous years, and if so, what’s causing the problems?

Hospitalization Rates

One of the reasons this year’s flu season seems so alarming is because of the number of people seeking medical care for flu-related symptoms. According to theNew York Times, 6.6 percent of this year’s hospital admissions from October through Januarywere attributed to the flu. This is higher than any year since 2013, but it’s not as dire as the year 2009, with the H1N1 (aka swine flu) was responsible for 8 percent of flu season hospitalizations.

So basically, this year’s hospitalization rates do seem to be worse than most recent years, but they’rehardly unheard of. Adding to the complication is the fact that this year’s flu shots seem to have been somewhat ineffective in protecting against this year’s most dangerous strains.

Flu Shot Inefficiencies

The New York times notes that there are four common strains of the flu, two type A strains (H1N1 and H3N2) and two type B strains (Victoria and Yamagata). H3N2 is the most dangerous strain, and while it’s not new to see it presenting itself this year, doctors are dealing with a mis-match of flu vaccines to the strains that are currently most prevalent.

The H3N2 strains we’re seeing this year appear to be different from the strain that is prevented by the current flu vaccine. This mis-matchmeans that this year’s flu shot is only about 30 percent effective.

Those Most At Risk

Each year, thousands of Americans die from the flu and itssubsequentinfections, such as pneumonia. On a mild year, about 12,000 Americans die from the flu, while 56,000 die during more severe seasons. It’s too early to tell what the total mortality rate will be for the 2017-2018 season. The majority of people killed by the flu are elderly, though it is also dangerous for middle-aged people with chronic disease, children under 5 and pregnant women.

The Bottom Line

This year’s flu season is slightly worse than normal because the flu shot is only operating at 30 percent efficacy. Matters are also made worse by the fact that this year’s most prevalent strain is of the H3N2 variety, which is generally more dangerous than other strains. Doctor’s advise that the flu shot could still help protect you from some strains of the flu, and may also lessen the severity of your illness should you contract the flu. However, it can’t hurt to enact immune-boosting best practices such as washing your hands regularly, eating a healthy diet and avoiding spaces such as public gyms.

51 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Tks for sharing.

SEND
Jim V
Jim V10 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jim V
Jim V10 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Paola S
Past Member 10 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Renata B
Renata B10 months ago

My husband got the flu (underground + air conditioning at work made the trick!); then he passed it to me. Now we are both recovering. No vaccines for us anyway, thank you. And they also eggs inside. Every year there is a story that they are useless or nearly. We do without.

SEND
Ruth S
Ruth S10 months ago

Thanks.

SEND
Mike R
Mike R10 months ago

Thanks

SEND
Winn A
Winn A10 months ago

Thanks

SEND