But the flu vaccine, with its variable effectiveness and weaknesses that require people to go in year after year, presents a compliance barrier for busy people.
Pneumonia and flu-related deaths rose sharply in the first weeks of 2018, accounting for 10% of all deaths during the week ending January 20.
The end of the flu season varies from year to year but generally lasts from October 1 until the end of March. Activity can last as late as May.
The Department of Health says New Mexico's flu season so far has included 34 flu-related deaths, 100 pneumonia-related deaths and 28 flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities.
"We're sending in troops to fight against the viral invaders, but we send in too many troops", he said. "There has been a definite increase in all localities".
The number of flu-related deaths in the state has doubled in the past month, health officials reported Friday, and already has surpassed the total number of deaths from the virus previous year. And the number of reported pediatric deaths probably does not include all cases because of the typical lag time for reporting non-hospital deaths.
The percentage has not been this high since the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic, Shelton said.
CNNreports that 69 percent of this year's flu season sickness was caused by the H3N2 strain, which is an influenza A virus.
This year's child death toll almost matches that at the same point in 2015, when 148 children died, Nordlund said. A slight dip in cases in Augusta and lower volumes might signal the season has passed an unusually high peak but the number of people sick is still straining health systems and cases of a second flu strain are also adding to the misery, officials said. "I think we are over the worst of it but we are not off the mountain yet".
However, since the flu actually mutates with every circulation, the strain in the vaccine does not always match the one in reality.
It's clear the flu shot is far from flawless. "That (fever) is the mainstay".
The CDC also found that about 86% of hospitalizations this season were associated with influenza A infections, about 13% with influenza B infections and less than 1% with co-infections. The flu shot covers two types each of A and B, but does not seem as effective this year as in past years.
"This year, the cell-based influenza vaccine appears to have somewhat better effectiveness in preventing influenza than the egg-based vaccine", Gottlieb said, based on a preliminary CDC analysis. More people are dying of the flu than medical professionals would expect at this time of the year. "But the interesting thing about the flu is, it feels like it just hit you like you were in a vehicle accident".
"Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing", she said. The CDC recommends that everyone, whether sick or well, get a flu shot because the flu viruses are still circulating. The best course of action is to stay at home, rest up and avoid contact with other people, except when seeking medical attention.
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