You would likely be surprised to know that most Pediatricians have already ordered their flu shot supply for next year... If they can, they might want to order some more though, as the recommendations for next year have been expanded, and it will now be recommended that all children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years get a flu shot each year.
This year's flu season is just about over, and it looks like we had a pretty mild flu season. Unlike most other years, this year's flu season peaked a little late, in early to mid March, a time when flu season is typically on its way to being over.
Perhaps it is all the worry over the bird flu or maybe everyone finally understood the importance of a yearly flu shot, but for whatever reason, it seems like more people wanted flu shots this year than every before.
Flu Activity ReportsIt is now very late in a typical flu season, but we have finally peaked this year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that flu activity continues to decline.
Only 5 states are still reporting widespread influenza activity. This includes Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, New York, and Rhode Island. That does still mean that there is some flu out there though.
Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin are reporting regional influenza activity. Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, New York City, and the District of Columbia are reporting local activity.
Twenty-three states, including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, are now reporting sporadic influenza activity.
And one state, Alabama, has reported no flu activity at all.
In general, widespread > regional > local > sporadic activity. How does it help to know the level of flu activity in your area? Well if you have flu symptoms and there is widespread flu activity in your state right now, then you likely have the flu. On the other hand, if you have flu symptoms and there is only sporadic flu activity in your state, then you may just have a cold.
Many people are surprised to still be seeing flu now, which is usually considered to be the end of cold and flu season, but you can be reassured by the fact that this year's flu season still looks a lot less active than last years, when the flu season had peaked at a much higher level.
Flu ShotsAlthough we have had flu shot shortages in 3 of the last 5 flu seasons, this year looked pretty good in that we have a lot more flu shots than we did last year. There was still a limited supply and a higher than usual demand that created some spot shortages of flu shots in some areas of the country.
Fortunately, it looks like the flu strains that are going around are a good match for this year's flu shot, which contain H1N1, H3N2, and a B like flu virus.
Flu MedicinesTamiflu, an anti-viral flu medication, has become popular in recent years, since it can lessen the symptoms of the flu and may even prevent you from getting the flu if you take it early on when you are exposed to someone else who is sick with the flu. Fortunately, although some people are trying to stockpile or horde Tamiflu because they are worried about the bird flu, that hasn't caused a shortage of Tamiflu for this year's flu season.
The FDA has also recently approved the use of Relenza for prevention of influenza in adults and children 5 years of age and older, in addition to its previous indication for the treatment of the flu.
The CDC has issued an alert that two other flu medicines, amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine), should not be used this flu season because of high levels of resistance by flu viruses. Tamiflu or Relenza should be used instead when needed.
Bird FluAlthough a regular flu shot won't protect your kids from the bird flu, if they get a flu shot and avoid getting the flu, you won't have to worry that they might have the bird flu if they get flu symptoms...