Flu activity begins to spike across country

As flu outbreak numbers rise, the HSE says it's not too late to get your vaccine

Flu activity begins to spike across country

At this point in the 2017-2018 flu season, 46 states were reporting widespread flu activity, there were 13.7 flu hospitalizations per 100,000 people and nearly 6% of doctor's visits were related to the flu.

HSE's Assistant National Director for Public Health and Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Dr Kevin Kelleher, explains that data shows that flu levels are likely to increase over the coming weeks when flu begins to actively circulate in the community. "This year's vaccine is a good match for circulating strains and it is not too late to get the vaccine", he said.

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Twenty-four states and Guam were reporting widespread influenza activity - meaning the virus has spread to many parts of the state, regardless of severity - as of December 29, the latest date included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) weekly flu report. Just 13 per cent of lab-confirmed flu cases were among children under four in Ottawa, compared with 47 per cent among seniors over 65. At least one death has been documented by the network of 12 pediatric hospitals across the country that reports to PHAC, but for privacy reasons the agency does not release the exact number, saying only that there have been fewer than five. (Lab-confirmed cases represent a small percentage of all flu cases, often just the ones that require hospitalization). They are reminding people to wash their hands frequently, cover their coughs and sneezes with arms, not hands, clean frequently touched surfaces and keep a distance from others to avoid spreading the flu. H3N2, the strain largely responsible for last year's outbreak, has so far been less common than the H1N1 strain.

However, this year's flu vaccine is a good match for circulating strains and the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu.

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"So there is no reason why people should not get the flu shot this year".

That also goes for healthy adults who are in close contact with people in those groups or with babies under six months of age who are too young to be inoculated against influenza, she said.

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