This season’s flu outbreak has been considerably worse than previous years, and is even approaching the severity of the 2009 swine flu. The swine flu hospitalized 274,304 people and killed 12,469, according to the CDC. The key difference between this year’s flu and 2009’s is that the swine flu was a pandemic. That means the strain, H1NI, had never been exposed to people before. Since people hadn’t been exposed to the strain, they had no immunity to it. This year, on the other hand, is not this way. The H3N2 strain is known to be particularly severe, but it’s not a new strain.
Why’s This Year So Bad?
First of all, the strain is pretty harsh. H3N2 is associated with more flu-related deaths than other influenzas.
Secondly, our immunity is sub-par. When we get repeatedly exposed to the same strains year after year, our immune system has no problem fighting them off. This year’s strain is not seen as frequently, so our bodies can’t fight it as easily.
Thirdly, the virus mutated as vaccines were being made! That means the vaccine prepared for this season was less effective than it could have been because it’s basically the wrong one. At best, vaccines are 60% effective, and it was sliced to half that this year.
Finally, the flu is everywhere. Normally, it peaks for different states at different times. They basically take turns being ravaged by illness. That was not the case this year. The U.S went in on a carpool of sickness and got everyone sick at the same time. 48 states are currently reporting widespread activity, and the season is barely halfway over.
OK, So The Vaccine Is Useless?
No. Each year, WHO gets together to decide which 3 strains to include in their bundle vaccine. H3N2 was among them, but like I said, it mutated. You should still get vaccinated, though. The vaccine will potentially save you from the second wave of flu: influenza B! Also, it can help reduce the spread of the flu and lessen the severity of symptoms if you do get it.
30% protection is better than staying completely defenseless! Get vaccinated ladies.