Experts say right combination of flu strains in the vaccine helped keep the number of cases low.
It is looking as if this year’s flu season is going to one of the mildest in quite a while, but is it because of the less severe winter we just experienced or did the doctors get the right combination in the flu shot?
Actually, the flu season is not quite over and some hospitals are seeing more admissions in the last few weeks, but most states in the country are reporting lower than normal flu activity, according to an article on kansascity.com.
Joe Bresee of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) influenza division, said it had been a fairly mild season, but he stopped short of saying it will finish that way, adding he never predicts anything about the flu. The latest data from the CDC showed a slight drop in flu activity last week.
Bresee said it was “tempting” to believe the mild winter had something to do with the fewer flu cases in this season, but he thinks it was probably a combination of a lot of other things. Among those, this year’s flu vaccine seems to be a lot closer to the combination of flu strains that people are contracting than last year’s. The CDC estimates the vaccine was 59 percent effective in preventing visits to a physician for the flu.
Last year, the vaccine failed to account for mutations in the most common strain of the virus that was circulating, and a large number of people who took the vaccines still came down with the flu. Bresee adds we would be seeing a greater number of cases this year if the vaccine had not been available.
And if it seems like the flu season is a little late this year, that’s just because recent seasons have actually been happening a little earlier than the norm. For the last three years, the flu has peaked from mid-December to mid-January, but historically, 80 percent of the recorded flu seasons have peaked between January and March.
Also, when experts say it has been a mild flu season, they are referring to the number of cases and not the virus itself, which can be very serious to those infected. Sore throats, fever and muscle aches are of the same severity of any other flu season, and the CDC warns sometimes the flu virus is still going around into April and May, so you may not be out of the woods just yet.