"Elderly residents, especially those with other health conditions, can be especially vulnerable during flu season, as can pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and individuals whose immune systems are compromised", the ISDH said in a release issued Monday.
"Flu is everywhere in the USA right now. There's lots of flu in lots of places", says Dan Jernigan, director of CDC's influenza division.
"We are now in the midst of a very active flu season with much of the nation experiencing widespread and intense activity", CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald told reporters during a briefing.
The number of confirmed flu cases in Allegheny County has doubled since last week. So there's a chance the season could slow down quickly or end early, making it a more normal flu season.
During the 2014-2015 flu season, 40 million Americans got the flu, 19 million people went to the doctor to get treated for the flu, and 970,000 people were hospitalized.
The flu strain now causing the most infections is H3N2, an influenza A virus that has been linked with increased hospitalizations and death, especially in young children and adults over age 65.
It's no secret by now that the flu vaccine is not a good match with the H3N2 flu strain that is dominating the season. We know that B viruses will be showing up later in the season.
In seasons when the predominant strain is H3N2, vaccine effectiveness tends to be lower than that against H1N1 and influenza B viruses, Jernigan said.
He also noted that it's not yet clear how effective this year's vaccine has been, particularly with the A strain.
The ISDH urges individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms to contact their physicians or visit nearby urgent care facilities in order to keep emergency departments clear for people who are critically ill or injured. Any protection is better than none.
Pharmacies across the United Kingdom are running out of the flu vaccine, as fears of a national epidemic continue to grow.
Health officials say all those indicators point to a potentially severe flu season, and Minnesota may not have seen the peak of the season yet.
Even though the vaccine may not be well matched, it doesn't mean you shouldn't get a flu shot, CDC officials say. While there are spot shortages of antiviral drugs, the overall supply is plentiful.
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