Employee & Community Health

Flu season's at its peak

3/16/2017 by Dr. Robert M. Jacobson and Jennifer L. Brickley, RN

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Minnesota is at the height of influenza (flu) activity. Across the state, two children have died, nearly 1,800 people have been hospitalized, and there have been 250 outbreaks in schools and 100 in long-term care facilities. 

Typically, flu season continues through April and May. It's also typical that fewer than half of individuals get vaccinated. Given that the flu will be around for months to come, those who haven't been vaccinated this season still should get it. 

How well is this year's flu vaccine working? Early data from the 3,144 children and adults followed by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network show that, overall, the vaccine: 

  • Is about 43% effective against the most common influenza A strain H3N2
  • Has been 73% effective against the influenza B strains
  • Appears to be 48% effective in preventing severe respiratory illness from either influenza A or B

The vaccine is not perfect, but it still is beneficial. Give yourself and your loved ones a chance to avoid the flu. It's not to late to protect yourself, your family, loved ones, colleagues, elderly neighbors and more by getting a flu vaccination. Contact your care team to make arrangements. 

Dr. Robert M. Jacobson is a primary care pediatrician in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine and is the medical director of the ECH and Southeast Minnesota Immunization Programs. 

Jennifer L. Brickley is a registered nurse in ECH and is the program coordinator of the ECH Immunization Program.