Employee & Community Health

Flu disease widespread in community

1/22/2018 by Robert M. Jacobson, MD, and Jennifer L. Brickley, RN

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Influenza — or flu — is widespread in our community. Across the state, one child has died, nearly 2,332 people have been hospitalized, and there have been 115 outbreaks in schools and 91 outbreaks 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 the flu vaccine. 

How well is this year's flu vaccine working? It's too early to say. A recently published study suggests the current flu vaccine will work better during the 2018 U.S. flu season than the 2017 Australian flu season. In early December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report showing the flu vaccine is well matched to the flu viruses circulating this season in the U.S. This suggests it should offer similar protection as in past seasons. 

While flu vaccination is far from perfect, it remains our best defense. It helps prevent the flu, but it also can help lessen the severity of symptoms if a vaccinated person does end up getting infected. This can reduce the chances of hospitalization or death. Give yourself and your loved ones a chance to avoid the flu. It's not too 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.