January 15, 2015 / Michael M. Siegel, MD
Although this year’s flu season is well underway, it is not too late to protect yourself against the dangerous virus. As a physician for Molina Healthcare, I remind my patients how important it is to get their annual flu vaccination even when the vaccine is less effective than usual.
Flu (short for influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that are constantly evolving and spread extremely quickly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the seasonal influenza for 2014-2015 is shaping up to be a bad one.
Early flu season data has detected variants of the H3N2 virus – a virus that has caused severe flu illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in the past. Despite efforts to develop vaccines to prevent or lessen flu symptoms, the current vaccine does not protect against a mutation found in the H3N2 strain. The good news, however, is that the flu vaccine is still 45 to 50 percent effective. Additionally, vaccinated people often experience milder illness if they do become infected.
Symptoms of H3N2 and the seasonal flu are similar. Within two days after being exposed to the viruses, people might experience:
Visit your health care provider before you start sneezing. Instead of spreading the virus, spread prevention. Get a flu shot now to enjoy a healthy season, it’s worth it!