Brace yourselves, everyone...flu season is not over yet! This year, the flu has taken a toll on a majority of individuals in the United States. Patients who presented with influenza-like illnesses made up of 6.3% of outpatient visits, which is larger than the national baseline, 2.2%. The widespread nature of the flu this season is compounded by the ability of the virus to mutate, thereby making vaccination less ineffective this year. The influenza A strain, H3N2, is one of the worst, and it may especially impact seniors, children, and pregnant woman.
However, given the statistics for this year's flu, getting a flu shot remains one of the best methods to prevent or at least mitigate the severity of symptoms, because of the body's ability to produce antibodies to fight off the disease. Vaccination may help prevent serious disease resulting in hospitalization and death. In fact, it was shown that parents with infants under 6 months of age can prevent child mortality from influenza by simply getting the flu shot!
The best ways to combat the flu right now is to stay hydrated, keep washing your hands, and get plenty of rest. You should not go to the Emergency Department for mild flu symptoms, but rather when your or your loved one's symptoms become more severe such as bluish skin, not drinking enough fluids, irritability, or fast breathing. Generally off the counter drugs will work, or in some cases, physican prescribed antiviral medication will do the trick.
For more information about Pennsylvania specific flu distribution, check out http://www.health.pa.gov/My%20Health/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/I-L/Pages/20172018-Influenza-Season.aspx#.WmdlnZM-dok
Stay safe and vaccinate!