This season’s flu shot far more effective than last year’s, researchers find

Alex Hogan  STAT

Alex Hogan STAT

Henry admits the flu shot is not flawless by any means, but says it's certainly the best protection.

In the 2017-18 influenza season, there were 29 influenza-related deaths in Iowa almost 600 hospitalizations by January 13.

It's still early, but the current influenza (flu) season is shaping up to be gentler than last winter's unusually brutal one.

Influenza has an abrupt onset, typically with a fever or chills, muscle or body aches including a headache and fatigue. "This year, we're not seeing quite the severity or quite the volume of people effected".

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With H1N1 dominating, young children have been especially hard hit by the flu this year - likely because they've had little or no previous exposure to that viral strain and therefore have not built up any natural immunity.

"Last year's flu season was notable for the severity, the number of people affected and the rate of hospitalizations", said Dr. Caitlin Pedati, state epidemiologist and medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. Of those illnesses, an estimated 9 percent were hospitalized.

Hall says this looks to be a long flu season.

He says people need to remember that while they may recover, others they come in contact with could have underlying health conditions which make them more susceptible to the flu. "People might also get flu by touching a contaminated surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose".

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An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against influenza and its potentially serious complications.

The most important response to seasonal flu, according to the CDC, is for everyone age 6 months or older to get vaccinated against the flu.

GP consultations with flu-like illness and intensive care admission rates remain at similar levels to last week (19.6 from 19.2 per 100,000 in England and 0.54 from 0.55 per 100,000 respectively), while there has been a slight increase in hospital admissions rates from 4.8 to 5.04 per 100,000.

Doctors say that preliminary reports show the flu shot seems to have reduced the risk posed by the H1N1 flu strain by approximately 72 percent. This is why it is recommended that individuals get a flu vaccine every year.

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Of the 48 people tested in December 2018, 11 were positive for the flu. "So, there has been quite a few young people have ended up in ICU".

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