Is it too late to get a flu shot? No, says Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider. Even if the flu season peaks soon, it will still be around for months. Despite the new flu strain, the vaccine has been well matched in roughly a third of the flu cases seen so far.
And it is considered to be effective against some other flu viruses that could surge in the late winter or spring. About 40 percent of the public was vaccinated against flu as of November, which is about normal in recent years.
The latest figures released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the flu hitting hard in most of the 43 states where the illness was widespread.
In fact, the CDC has warned the flu has reached an epidemic level in the United States, but that is not uncommon. According to one CDC definition, flu is epidemic when a certain percentage of deaths in a given week are due to flu and pneumonia. Using that as a guide, flu epidemics occurred in nine of the last 12 winters, including this one. Flu-related deaths surpassed the epidemic threshold three weeks ago, then dropped below that level the next week. But other measures indicate flu still is epidemic.
So far this season, 15 children have died from the illness.
Here are some more statistics.
On average, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu yearly, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu complications. During the peak of the 2013-2014 influenza season in Kansas, approximately six percent of all health care visits were due to influenza-like illness. Influenza or pneumonia contributed to or was the direct cause of 1,135 deaths among Kansas residents during the 2013-2014 influenza season. Influenza and pneumonia was the seventh leading underlying cause of death in 2013 in Kansas.
Sure, getting a flu shot is important for one’s own health. But, Schneider said there is more to it than that. Staying healthy and avoiding the bug is also important to keep others safe, especially those who are more susceptible to the virus.
Fourth positive case of COVID-19 identified in Barton County