DOH: Still time to get a flu shot

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She said one intriguing new finding in the report is that coinfection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) were detected in 24 of the kids who died.

This flu season is already one of the worst seasons on record and may not reach its peak for several more weeks to come. Most insurance plans cover flu shots with no copay.

"Overall hospitalizations are now significantly higher than what we've seen for this time of year since our current tracking system began nearly a decade ago, in 2010", Schuchat said.

In North Carolina, there have been 140 flu-related deaths, with 108 of them occurring in the last few weeks.

In a Chronicle poll of 263 students, 27 percent said they had the flu this year.

Statistics like this haven't been seen since the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

Thus far, 68 children have reportedly been felled by the flu.

"In 2014-15, that number was 35.1 per 1,000".

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"Our findings suggest that data from smart thermometers are a new source of information for accurately tracking influenza in advance of standard approaches", said Philip Polgreen, associate professor at UI.

Epidemiologists and virus experts don't have an explanation yet for why the flu this season has been worse than usual, Schuchat said. Since the fourth week of January, flu resulted in the deaths of another 16 children, bringing the total pediatric deaths to at least 53 this season. "This years' virus isn't new in terms of antigenic risk".

"What we are seeing right now is a trend towards a strain shift, from A to B", Norton Healthcare Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Paul Schulz said.

The dominant flu strain this season, influenza A (H3N2), is especially potent, linked with severe disease and death, particularly among children and the elderly. "A good match means that the viruses circulating during a given season and the viruses in the vaccines are closely related and the antibodies produced protects against the infection", Dr. Lopez says.

As is the case every season, this year's influenza vaccine formulation has coverage of strains of both type A and B influenza.

Howard Jacobson, the vice president of the LI Pharmacist Society who owns three pharmacies, says this kind of legislation is badly needed.

Scientists measure the spread and severity of the flu by looking at the percentage of doctor's visits that are for flu or flu-like illnesses. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, told HealthDay.

Individuals infected with the influenza virus typically experience symptoms including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, and fatigue.