This year’s influenza (“flu”) vaccine is composed of three or four different strains, depending on the vaccine you received. Unfortunately, 90% of the flu cases reported thus far are of a H3N2 virus, primarily of a strain that “drifted” or changed from the strain that the vaccine was designed to protect against.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has acknowledged that this year’s flu vaccine does not prevent infection from the dominant H3N2 strain. With this in mind, experts still recommend that getting a flu shot is your best action towards protection and prevention of the flu. According to the CDC, “vaccination has been found to provide some protection against drifted viruses. Though reduced, this cross-protection might reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death” In addition, other strains of the influenza will circulate throughout the season, so vaccination with protect against additional strains that may arise.
Along with an annual flu vaccine, it is recommended to employ everyday preventive actions such as hand washing and covering your cough or sneeze to help stop the spread of germs. Take antiviral medications to treat flu illness if prescribed by your doctor.
Did You Know?
- The influenza virus causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations per year.
- Infected individuals may be able to infect others one day before and up to seven or more days after becoming sick.
- It is recommended to wash your hands for at least 15 to 20 seconds or long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
Avoid the Spread of Influenza
- Avoid close contact. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect the spread of germs.
- Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.