Yesterday afternoon’s weekly flu report shows that influenza is still circulating widely in AZ… with a steep increase in the last couple of weeks. The strain that’s circulating is mostly Type A - H3N2 which can be more severe than the 2009 H1N1, especially for seniors. There are plenty of B strains going around too. But you can still find a vaccine through Stop the Spread AZ – just be sure to call the place first to make sure they still have it and if you need an appointment. By the way- this year’s vaccine is still a perfect match for the circulating strains. The best prevention besides getting vaccinated is to wash your hands and make sure you cough or sneeze into your sleeve instead of your hand. Most importantly… don’t send your kids to school sick and don’t go to work sick either.
Posts Tagged ‘flu vaccine’
Most people think that when the weather warms up, we can stop worrying about the flu. But it’s still here. Recently, a young Gila County child died from influenza. It’s the only pediatric death from flu in Arizona this year, last year 5 children under 18 died. Adult flu deaths are not tracked by the state.
This year’s flu season hit later and was lighter than last years. But it is still circulating so you need know what to do if you get the flu. It’s much worse than a cold with a high fever, achiness, cough, and tiredness. The main distinction from a cold is how fast you get sick. A cold develops and the flu hits you quickly.
The best thing you can do about the flu is stay home if you’re feeling sick. Be sure to cover your cough and wash your hands.
During the 2009- 2010 influenza pandemic, we saw how influenza can be unpredictable in terms of who it affects most, when it occurs, and what strains will circulate. This season is no exception. While the circulating strains are exactly what we had predicted, the peak of the flu season is hitting later than usual… and the influenza virus is finally making rounds.
Last week, the number of flu cases jumped by more than 40 percent and came in from almost the whole state. Flu numbers are posted every Wednesday in the Surveillance Report. Our state lab has done a lot of PCR and culture testing to find out more details about the circulating viruses, and the good news is that, so far, the three strains in the vaccine are a good match with the circulating strains in Arizona and nationally (H3N2 Influenza A, the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain and an Influenza B). There are still plenty of places you can find an influenza vaccine- and of course it’ll be more important over the next few weeks to cover your cough properly, wash your hands and stay home if you or your kids get sick.
Just in time for the holidays, we’re got our first lab confirmed case of influenza – actually two cases. Influenza has probably been in the state for a while now, but we don’t officially start counting the cases until there is a case confirmed at our lab. The vaccine was approved this summer and fights 3 different types of flu. If you’re out holiday shopping, you might want to think about giving yourself a gift… a flu vaccine could help you have a flu-free holiday! For information about where to find a flu shot, visit http://stopthespreadaz.org.
Another key to prevent the spread of influenza and other diseases is washing your hands with soap – or if you can’t do that, use hand sanitizer. Covering your cough and sneeze will also help keep germs from spreading. When you are sick, stay home and keep your kids home from school when they are sick. There’s more specific information for schools, parents and healthcare professionals on our flu website.
The FDA approved the 2011-2012 influenza vaccine this week. The strains in this year’s vaccine were recommended by the CDC and the World Healthy Organization after studying virus samples collected from around the world to find the influenza viruses that are the most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season. The strains selected for this season are the same as last year: A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus (pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza virus), A/Perth /16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
People should get immunized against the flu every year- even when there’s no change in the strain from the previous year (like this time). Immunity to influenza viruses declines over time and might be too low to provide protection after a year.
With last year’s pandemic, we saw how influenza can be unpredictable in terms of who it affects most, when it occurs, and what strains will circulate. This season we are back to a more usual flu season, at least so far. Our first laboratory-confirmed cases were detected earlier than most years (at the end of September), but influenza just kind of bumped along until it really started picking up speed in the in the last few weeks. All counties have found laboratory-confirmed cases this season, and we’re declaring flu to be at “widespread” levels in this week’s Surveillance Report.
We’ve found all three of the common types of influenza virus in Arizona this season, our old friend Influenza A (H3N2), the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain and influenza B. In most seasons we see at least two different strains (like this year). Last year was unique, and the H1N1 virus displaced all the other influenza viruses. Our state lab has done a lot of PCR and culture testing to find out more details about the circulating viruses, and the good news is that, so far, the three strains in the vaccine are a good match with the circulating strains in Arizona and nationally.
This year, CDC started distributing vaccine to state and local programs earlier than ever. Despite the fact that there has been plenty of vaccine in Arizona since early fall, demand by the public for flu vaccine has been very light this year. Because Arizona normally has a late season peak in flu, it is not too late to vaccinate. Our Immunizations team continues to work with counties and The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) to encourage continuing flu vaccination through the spring. You can find your nearest flu shot clinic by visiting our flu shot locator.
Last year at this time the new H1N1 flu virus was going gangbusters. Loads of Arizonans were getting sick (especially kids), the vaccine was still in short supply. The county health departments were prioritizing which doctors could get the vaccine. What a difference a year makes. Flu activity across the country is light (so far), and there is plenty of vaccine, making this an excellent time to get a flu vaccine. This season, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated, even if they got a seasonal or 2009 H1N1 vaccine last season. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine has been updated to protect against the three flu viruses that’ll be circulating in the next few months.
The H1N1 influenza strain from last year has been remarkably stable and hasn’t changed very much at all. A report published last week examined the genetic changes in the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus. Some minor changes were detected in Singapore in early 2010, spreading through Australia and New Zealand over their winter (our summer). At this stage, the changes aren’t drastic enough to make this season’s vaccine less effective, but scientists are carefully monitoring the virus as winter approaches in our hemisphere.
FYI- State employees, retirees, spouses and their kids over 4 years old have three options to get a free flu shot through the Benefit Options Flu Shot Program including Worksite Flu Clinics, Family Day Clinics, and Healthwaves Public Clinics.