Medicine

Oklahoma has its first two flu deaths of the season

Oklahoma has its first two flu deaths of the season

Brace yourself for a rough flu season.

The Panhandle Health District reported a flu death in early October, signaling an early flu season. Their vaccine, which has the same composition as the one we use here in the USA, was estimated to be only about 10% effective.

"Reports from Australia have caused mounting concern, with record-high numbers of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications and outbreaks and higher-than-average numbers of hospitalizations and deaths", the medical professionals wrote. The authors stated rather than focusing on short-term improvements of the common vaccine, they instead hope "to achieve the ultimate objective of a universal influenza vaccine" through using a diverse group of experts and resources.

The paper also noted that the flu vaccine "mismatch" seen in Australia this year could be related to the way most flu vaccines are now made: using chicken eggs to "grow" the flu virus strains.

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"The Centers for Disease Control has said we can expect a pretty, pretty heavy flu season", Dr. Robert Czwalina said. The situation in Australia suggests this flu season could be even worse. "We're not saying it's a great vaccine", Bregier said.

This year's vaccine may have been mismatched for the flu strains that ended up circulating, making the vaccinations ineffective. "It may be a bad flu season, and in particular, in a bad season, you want to get every bit of protection you can".

Still, there's no way to predict for certain how severe or mild the flu season will be in any given year.

"However imperfect, though, current influenza vaccines remain a valuable public health tool, and it is always better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated", the paper said. Dr. Fauci also tells Bustlethat people can lower their risk of catching the flu this winter by practicing proper hygiene, and washing their hands frequently.