While this year’s flu strains are not considered as deadly as those recorded last year, health authorities are still urging people to get their annual flu shot in an effort to maintain low infection rates.
According to In Forum, there are widespread cases of the flu being reported in North Dakota which has authorities urging people to vaccinate against the potentially deadly disease. So far this flu season, in North Dakota there have been 1,810 laboratory-identified cases of influenza, significantly less than the 8,498 reported cases from last year’s flu season, which is being considered the worst in 20 years.
Of those reported this year, most instances of the flu are being seen in children under the age of 10, which makes it a disturbing figure. Figures state that the very young and the very old are most susceptible to contracting and dying from influenza. Last year’s flu season saw 185 reported child deaths across the nation as a result of influenza. Of that figure, 80 percent occurred in children who were unvaccinated.
Already, in North Carolina, four children have died from the flu, according to WRAL.com. This brings the state’s death toll for the season to 29. The North Carolina Division of Public Health states that of these deaths, 20 occurred in people over the age of 65, which is another demographic considered extremely susceptible to the flu.
For those who want to combat the flu, Dr. Allen Mask is urging people to get vaccinated — even this late into the current flu season.
“Number one is get your flu vaccine,” he said.
“That’s your best weapon against the flu. It’s not too late to get it right now.”
In addition, Dr. Mask advises correct handwashing procedures and keeping away from those who are infected as easy measures that can help protect against contracting influenza.
“This infection is spread by respiratory droplets, so we think about six feet away is about the distance you need from someone,” he said.
“We really want people to stay home if they’re sick,” he also added.
The North Dakota Department of Health is also echoing Dr. Mask’s sentiments. They state that only 44 percent of children who are aged between 6-months to 4-years-old are currently vaccinated against influenza. And, while the flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective, sometimes dipping as low as 40 percent according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is still the most effective method available against the disease.
It is expected the 2018/2019 flu season will peak in mid- to late February. However, the flu season is not generally considered officially over until May.