U.S. officials have reported that the number of states reporting widespread flu activity has increased from 11 to 31 in just one week. The severity of flu strains is often measured by the number of children it kills in any given year. This season the number is at six–low by public health standards–but people are still getting sick by the boatloads. Hmmm…weren’t flu vaccinations way up this year? Crazy.
Because the composition of the flu vaccine is decided nine months earlier than it is actually made available to the public–an eternity in light of the influenza virus’ ability to mutate–it is often impossible to match exactly the strains that might make their appearance on any given year. To add insult to injury, one influenza expert has disclosed that we are now even seeing some strains developing resistance to Tamiflu, a popular anti-viral used frequently to fight the symptoms of the flu (which is supposed to be prevented through the vaccine–anybody else see a glitch in this reasoning?). According to Dr. Joe Bresee of the CDC’s influenza division, “a less-than-ideal virus match between the viruses in the vaccine and those circulating viruses can reduce vaccine effectiveness.” OK, thank you; finally, some sense. So why bother?
I know a lot of people who are battling the flu right now. Hang in there; you’ll get better. And then you’ll develop your own immunity, which will strengthen your system. Of course, that is until next year, when a new strain will then come around and we’ll get to do it all over again. Boy, ain’t health fun?