The 2017/2018 flu season was a catastrophic time for Australians. in 2017, over 1,000 Australians suffered flu related deaths, with 90 percent of these deaths being people aged over 65. There’s no sign that it’ll slow down in the next season, either.
The current 2018 flu season in the United States is causing the same far-reaching damage as Australia’s 2017 flu season, and shows no sign of stopping– paediatric deaths have reached 84 across the country at the time of writing, with people across the country seeking care at levels reminiscent of the swine flu outbreak of 2009/2010.
What to expect next flu season
Recently, and very fortunately, there have been moves made to create more efficient vaccines. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has just developed a new vaccine for the ongoing flu season which is 36% effective. This means that only 36% of those who receive the immunisation will develop a protective immune response. Although it may seem as if 36% is a small number, it does not translate to an ineffective immunisation across the board. Because the vaccination protects against several flu strains through the one immunisation, it is the presence of the H3N2 strain that lowers the total rating effectiveness. For other strains, the vaccination is much more effective– the efficacy for the B strain is 42 percent, and the efficacy of the H1N1 is 67 percent.
To manage the potential dangers of the next flu season, the Australian federal government is introducing enhanced vaccines that can better manage the health of both the young and the elderly, age groups that are most vulnerable to the effects of influenza.
The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, is confident in the abilityof these enhanced vaccines, stating that "we are pretty confident this will be better protection."
How to avoid the flu in the upcoming season
The flu is not necessarily a luck of the draw event, and there are ways to minimise the chance of contracting this particular illness.
Flu vaccination, as recommended so highly in this blog, is one of the first steps one should take to protect against influenza. Even if you still get the flu after receiving your vaccine, it is also to help prevent a visit to the hospital due to symptoms dramatically worsening. The most advantageous time to receive an immunisation is before the flu season in early autumn, although it’s never too late – particularly if you forget.
Practicing good hygiene is also a great way to potentially avoid the flu. This can involve keeping any surfaces around your house clean, washing your hands regularly, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding sharing things like cups and cutlery.
What symptoms to look out for
Reading a laundry list of symptoms associated with influenza is not an ideal way to discover if you have the influenza virus. Symptoms of the flu can differ between people, and sufferers do not need to have every associated symptom to have the virus, so it’s important to remember to consult a general practitioner if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A fever – even the feel of fever
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscular aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
If you’ve been experiencing a combination of these symptoms, make sure to visit your GP as soon as possible.
Preparing for the next flu season
With something as potentially deadly as the flu, it’s important to stay on top of any symptoms, whether they are your own or any one you share a space with. If you have any questions about the influenza virus or would like to know more about ways to stay healthy during the peak sick season, make sure to get in touch with the crew at Team Med today.