He says the best way to avoid the flu is to get immunized with a flu shot. As health officials rushed to contain the outbreak, the CDC admitted that the 2014 flu vaccine did not protect well against H3N2 - it had just seven percent chance of protection.
The flu usually comes on suddenly and often with a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, and headaches.
Although it is relatively early in this flu season, influenza activity in SC at this point has been higher than normal.
This season, the CDC advises that only injectable flu vaccines (flu shots) are recommended.
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Other explanations for Penobscot's numbers include the possibility that there are actually more flu cases in the community or that designated health care providers are being especially avid in reporting their cases. "Getting it during the holiday season is even worse", said Chakravarty.
And the vaccine is no guarantee of protection. We encourage individuals, and especially seniors, to protect themselves this holiday season with an annual flu vaccine so that they can continue doing the things they love with their families.
The weekly influenza surveillance report shows that of all ME counties, Penobscot County has the most flu activity, with 60 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and 24 hospitalizations. The cost of adult flu vaccine is $25.00.
"We do see a predominance of the H3N2 virus that was common last season", Flannery said.
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Most Oklahoma cases involve those age 50 or older or those four and younger.
Despite those misgivings, she encourages the elderly and those with underlying heart and lung conditions or with suppressed immune systems, who are vulnerable to influenza and its complications, to get their shot to obtain "all the protection you can get".
"When we measure vaccine effectiveness, that's effectiveness against protecting against disease completely", said Schaffner, who was not involved in the CDC research, though he is a liaison representative of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which develops recommendations on the use of vaccines for the CDC.
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