Health experts have been recommending people to get their flu vaccines and now that the flu season has started are you prepared? Be warned, this flu season had the earliest start in 10 years.
It’s the holiday season, with family and friends waiting anxiously for the Christmas dinner, with people ravaging shopping center for gifts and supermarkets for food. It’s the Holy Grail of the flu season. Experts warn this is going to be a bad flu season, although the CDC says the US is ready for it. However, since this flu season has the earliest start in 10 years, we might be in for a surprise.
Earlier this week, just as the month of December started, health officials had no holiday cheer when they announced the flu season has already begun. They warned some of the primary strain will make you sicker than others and the elderly are going to have a particular hard time. If you didn’t get your flu vaccine yet, you’d better to get it now.
“It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director. “We’re seeing the beginning of the uptick start at least a month before we’d generally see it” he added.
Health experts are worried that the flu season started early than ever in the past decade. They don’t know exactly why or for how long we should be weary of it. With more than a third of Americans already vaccinated (that’s 112 million Americans), flu reports from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas are still higher than usually. Two children have already died in hospitals because of the flu.
There are 120 million vaccines available and 112 million Americans got theirs. While this year there are a lot more vaccines for the primary strains of the flu (and better at matching H3N2 influenza A, H1N1 pandemic swine flu and influenza B), there still is a chance at least 36,000 people will die because of it.
NBC writes that on average, each year about a quarter of Americans gets the flu and the death toll amounts to 36,000. But given this year the flu season started the earliest in ten years, it’s likely the death toll will be bigger. In 2003-04, the last time the flu season started as early as in 2012, there were more than 48,000 deaths in the United States caused by influenza.