According to the results of a recent Coast Facebook poll, 59 percent of the 290 respondents have received a vaccine to protect against the influenza viruses this flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would like to see that percentage rate higher because the devastating 2018 flu season is shaping up to be the most dangerous in recent years — and it’s not over yet.
According to the CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, the current season is the first time all states in the entire continental U.S. have reported widespread flu activity during the same week.
The CDC reports 9.7 percent of deaths that occurred in the U.S. during the week ending on Jan. 13 were attributable to pneumonia and influenza-related illness. Compounding the problem this flu season is the fact that the vaccine appears to offer only weak protection against H3N2 strain, the predominantly circulating strain of flu. H3N2 and H1N1 are both strains of influenza A.
That doesn’t mean people should skip the flu shot.
Between 10 to 15 percent of people infected with influenza are infected with the H1N1 strain or the influenza B virus, according to CDC data — and because there are multiple strains circulating, it is possible to catch the flu twice in one season. Getting sick with one strain doesn’t negate the possibility of getting sick with another strain.
The bottom line: Although the vaccine may not be as effective against the H3N2 strain as anyone would like, health officials still recommend vaccination for anyone who has not yet had it.
To protect against the flu, public health officials recommend regularly washing your hands. But there’s a right way to do that. (Rinsing your hands under running water won’t cut it.) According to the Mayo Clinic, skip the antibacterial soaps — they’re no more effective at killing germs than is regular soap — and follow these steps:
1. Wet your hands with running water — either warm or cold.
2. Apply liquid, bar or powder soap to a cupped hand.
3. Lather well.
4. Rub your hands, palm to palm, vigorously for at least 20 seconds.
5. Rinse well.
6. Dry your hands with a clean towel.
7. Use the towel to turn off the faucet.