By Stephanie Chester, MS, Senior Specialist, Influenza Programs, APHL
Many of you have seen or heard the recent headlines: “Flu reaches epidemic level,” “Flu season strikes early,” and “Death increases, misery mounts”. There’s no doubt that this season started earlier and stronger than the past few seasons, but it’s important to remember that every influenza season is unique. Listed below are the articles and websites we have been reading this week.
If you can only read one: This article has great information covering a lot of different issues. It addresses common concerns and myths about flu and the vaccine; it also responds to reasons people often give for not getting the vaccine like “I never get the flu!”
What’s going on right now?
- Flu spreads to 47 states, but may be starting to wane, CDC says: We won’t know for another week or two if we have crossed the peak of the season, but activity decreased in some areas recently.
- Flu reaches epidemic level in U.S., says CDC: Nine out of ten regions in the U.S. reached elevated levels of flu activity ahead of the normal peak time in late January or February.
- Questions and Answers: Flu Season hits U.S.: Influenza experts and public health officials answer common questions about this season and flu in general.
Debunking Common Myths about Influenza and the Flu Vaccine
- Flu Shot Causes Flu? Nonsense – 4 Flu Vaccine Myths Busted: The flu vaccine is a great way to protect yourself from season influenza. Learn about the most common myths and misgivings about the vaccine — like it doesn’t cause flu!
- Flu Season 2013: What You Need to Know: There are a lot of respiratory viruses floating around right now. So how do we know if we actually have flu and what to do if we get it? This article also has a great slideshow correcting many myths around influenza in general.
- HealthMap Vaccine Finder: Not vaccinated yet? It’s not too late. Find where shots are available here.
- A Shot in the Dark? Some say Flu Vaccine Hard to Find: “CDC officials say the vaccine is available; you may just need to look for it.”
- Why it’s so hard to get the flu vaccine supply right: Flu vaccine manufacturers have to estimate the demand for each season months in advance and can’t increase production once we realize it’s a heavy season like this one. (Here’s a blog post on how the flu vaccine is actually developed.)
Wash Your Hands!
We’ll leave you with one last thought for the day. While getting the flu vaccine is the best way to avoid getting the flu, washing your hands is the second best way. Wash those hands frequently and stay healthy! Check out this fun video to really understand why hand washing is so important: Toothbrush Prank