We’d like to do whatever we can to avoid the fever, body aches, stuffy nose and coughing that comes from the seasonal flu. You’ll be happy to know that this year’s flu season is turning out to be milder than last year’s – one of the worst on record.
While it’s impossible to predict just how well a flu vaccine will work – experts have to use their best educated guess months in advance to decide which strains to use in the vaccine – this year’s flu vaccine has been a much better match so far this year, according to the CDC. That being said, how bad is this year’s flu season?
This Year's Flu Strain . . . so Far
This time last year, most people with flu were getting sick from the H3N2 strain, which was a major factor in the severity of the 2017 to 2018 flu season. This year, a different strain is making most people sick: H1N1, the same strain that caused the flu pandemic in 2009.
But because H1N1 has now been around for a decade, immunity against it has built up in the general public, says William Schaffner, M.D., professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. “It generally causes milder infections than H3N2,” he says.
Plus, in recent years, the flu vaccine did a better job of protecting against H1N1 strains than against H3N2.
What to know: While H3N2 is known for being especially dangerous for older adults (who are already at increased risk for severe illness from flu), H1N1 tends to be riskier for younger people, including children and young adults—who might not have been exposed to the strain enough to build up immunity to it, Schaffner says.
So, while this year’s flu season isn’t as bad as last year’s, you can still get the flu. In fact you can get the flu any time year, but according to the CDC, “flu season” usually lasts from October to as late as April or May and typically peaks in February in the U.S.
Your best defense against the flu is to get a flu shot – and it’s not too late! It’s also important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, drink plenty of water, get good sleep, and eat healthy. While this flu season may be milder than last, you can still protect yourself and visit the Medical Specialty Center – Your Everyday Health Care Clinic – at Orchard Hospital. Walk-ins are welcome or you can make an appointment.
Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior health care. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.