“There’s still a lot more flu season to come,” she said. “I expect activity to continue for several more weeks.”
That’s why she’s urging anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated to get a flu shot. “It’s not too late,” Brammer said.
One underrated benefit of the vaccine is that even if you do get sick, your flu will likely be milder than if you haven’t been vaccinated. A milder flu can prevent complications like pneumonia that can be deadly, especially to the very young and very old.
Brammer also stressed that getting vaccinated not only protects you, but those around you, as well.
According to the CDC, flu activity is high in New York City, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.
It’s still too early to tell how severe this season will be, Brammer said. So far, the season has been much less severe than last year when the H3N2 virus predominated. Last year, flu sent nearly 1 million Americans to the hospital and killed about 80,000.
This season is still classified as a less severe season, Brammer said. “But we’re not finished yet,” she said. “We’ll have to see how it plays out.”
The CDC doesn’t track adult deaths from flu, but they do keep tabs on pediatric deaths. As of the latest data, a total to 28 children have died from flu.
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Relenza can make your illness less severe. But if you’re sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home so you don’t infect others.
The vaccine effectiveness study was published Feb. 15 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.