Routine annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and older.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity is decreasing, but still remains slightly elevated nationwide. Influenza A (H3N2) was the predominant virus of the season; however, since early March, Influenza B viruses have been more common than Influenza A viruses.
Flu vaccination is still the best tool we have to help prevent against the flu and it takes two weeks to take effect. While the flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, it is the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization and death. A recent study showed that influenza vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half (51%) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions, and by nearly two-thirds (65%) among healthy children. In addition to getting the flu vaccine, your family should take everyday precautions such as covering your cough and sneeze, washing your hands often, staying home from work and/or school when sick, and staying away from sick people.
Although the flu can be mild for some people; for others, the flu can cause severe disease, hospitalizations and death. The CDC reported that hospitalization rates are highest among people over 65 years old; people between 50 and 64 years of age; children younger than 5 years old; and people with underlying health conditions.
Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu® are available and approved for treatment of the flu. If taken early (as soon as your symptoms begin), antivirals can lessen symptoms, shorten duration of illness, and help prevent severe illness and flu complications. But, not everyone needs to get antivirals. The people recommended to get antivirals are those who are at higher risk of complications and severe illness from flu including those 65 years old and older, young children, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Healthcare providers should treat patients with antivirals as soon as they suspect influenza. They should not wait for confirmation from lab tests.
The CDC reports that they are in regular contact with manufacturers of antivirals, and although there is not a national shortage, there still might be some spot shortages of antivirals in areas with a lot of flu activity. If you are prescribed antivirals, call your pharmacy to make sure they have them in stock. If not, call around to other pharmacies to find them.
View the CDC’s FluView to monitor flu activity in the U.S. The CDC also receives weekly reports of hospitalizations and deaths that occur as a result of influenza. So far this season, 151 flu-associated pediatric deaths have been reported to the CDC during the 2017-18 flu season. For more information, read the CDC’s Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season.