Scientists track the viruses and figure out what will be dominant each year, and they keep those in mind as they concoct the vaccines.
This year, as has happened in the past, one of the dominant strains “drifted.” Over time, it’s changed enough that now the vaccines won’t protect against it because they no longer recognize it.
No one realized this strain that had drifted was around until this year’s vaccines had already been produced.
The vaccines we have will protect against a chunk of flu viruses floating around, but not this one. Which means, if you’re unlucky enough to become infected with this particular strain of flu virus, you’ll need to get into your provider ASAP if you have flu symptoms, such as:
- Body or muscle aches
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
Your provider will put you on antivirals, which will help your body fight the infection. You need to get started on antivirals within a couple of days of symptoms appearing.
Don’t mess around with flu. It sounds like an old-timey illness that doesn’t mean much these days, but based on reports covering a 30-year span from 1977 to 2007, CDC estimates that, in any given year, there are between 3,000 and 49,000 flu-related deaths.
In addition to immunizing, make sure family members are cleaning their hands many times each day. The areas in the home that are frequently touched, like doorknobs, desktops, remotes, and faucets should be disinfected daily.
Keep your hands off of your eyes, nose, and mouth. Our hands pick up germs which enter our bodies when we rub our eyes or touch our noses or mouths.
Protect others by covering your coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you feel ill. Well, stay home AFTER you visit your provider.
That’s about it for flu right now. If you have questions, call the office or drop a line in the comments section.
By Trish Parnell