could start within weeks, and though early indicators suggest
it could be relatively mild this year, health officials are
renewing calls for vaccination following one of the deadliest
seasons in recent memory.
flu season began in late October, peaked in February and
didn’t fully cool until May, breaking national records for
hospitalization rates along the way.
reason for optimism that this year’s season won’t be as
flu season starts in Australia. Its impact there can predict
how bad it will be here and how well the annual flu vaccine
works against the most prevalent strains.
Australia’s flu season was nasty.
things have been much more mild, Down Under, according to a
report released recently by AARP that quoted national and
international health experts.
a contrast from last year, when we had a very severe flu
season, with H3N2 predominating,” Kanta Subbarao, director
of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for
Reference and Research on Influenza, said in the report.
officials still say vaccination is key.
season is an imperfect predictor because the flu virus can
shift and mutate, said Kerri Tesreau with the Missouri
Department of Health and Senior Services.
appear the flu season has been mild in Australia and the
predominant strain has been H1N1 and the flu shot works well
against that,” said Tesreau, the director of the
department’s Division of Community & Public Health.
“But flu is unpredictable.”
officials have already begun their annual vaccination
campaign, releasing photos of Gov. Mike Parson and his wife,
Teresa, getting their shots and noting that the flu costs 17
million workdays every year in the United States.
focused on strengthening Missouri’s workforce to make our
state more competitive and keeping Missourians healthy is
crucial to that success,” Parson said in a statement. “The
First Lady and I made sure to get our annual flu shot to not
only protect us from getting the flu but also to protect those
around us — those we work with, our families and especially
state epidemiologist for the Kansas Department of Health and
Environment, said her state is also beginning its vaccination
push. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that almost
everyone six months or older get the shot by the end of
it’s particularly important for anyone at high risk of
complications, including babies and young children, pregnant
women, older people and those with certain chronic conditions.
It also potentially prevents people who care for those
populations from spreading it.
Even if the
shot doesn’t completely prevent infection, there’s
evidence that it makes the sickness less severe and prevents
the kind of cases that caused so much misery last year.
As the flu
season peaked, emergency rooms filled and some Missouri
hospitals reported delays in being able to transfer patients
to larger facilities.
Most flu deaths
occur in people who are elderly or frail, but a record-high
180 deaths occurred in children nationwide last season,
according to the CDC.
about 1,700 total deaths related to influenza and pneumonia, a
common complication. That was the most the state had
experienced in three years.
reported about 2,100 such deaths, which was comparable to past
years. But Randall Williams, the director of the Missouri
health department, said the state was near the top nationally
in schools closed due to flu.