Routine annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and older.
For the 2017–18 season, a variety of flu vaccines are available. Quadrivalent influenza vaccines prevent against four flu strains, while trivalent influenza vaccines prevent against three flu strains. Inactivated influenza vaccines (IIVs) will be available in trivalent (IIV3) and quadrivalent (IIV4) formulations. Recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) will be available in trivalent (RIV3) and quadrivalent (RIV4) formulations. Like last flu season, live attenuated influenza vaccine (also known as nasal spray, LAIV or FluMist) is not recommended for use during the 2017–18 season due to concerns about its effectiveness. For more information on the recommendations for the 2017-18 Influenza Season, visit the CDC’s website.
There is currently widespread flu activity across the U.S. Although this is the peak of the current flu season, the CDC still expects many more weeks of flu activity. Right now, the predominant strain of the flu season is influenza A H3N2, and this strain is often linked to more severe flu seasons with more severe illness, more hospitalizations and more deaths. However, influenza A H1NI viruses are also circulating and influenza B strains usually start circulating later during the flu season. These three flu strains are in this season’s flu vaccine. Please make sure to get the flu vaccine if you haven’t received it yet this season. It’s not too late.
Flu vaccination is still the best tool we have to help prevent against the flu. Its also important to note that it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect. 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 and death. The CDC reported that hospitalization rates are increasing and 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 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 that although there is not a national shortage, there still might be some spot shortages of antivirals in areas with high 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, 30 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.