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Flu season off to a slow start this year

November 30, 2018

Even though flu season might be off to a slow start this year, when it does arrive, Douglas County public health officials said this year’s vaccine should provide effective protection.

Only a couple of positive cases of the flu been reported in Douglas County so far, when it does arrive, it’s not expected to be as bad as last year.

“It looks like the influenza season is going to be a typical flu year,” said Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, public health officer for Douglas County.

While last year was characterized by more cases over a longer flu season, Dannenhoffer said it’s still too early to really determine how bad it will be.

“We think the vaccine is going to be a good match for the diseases that are out there, and we’ve not seen anything funny or unusual this year,” he said.

Typically the flu starts around the world, he said, and usually comes to the U.S. from South America and Australia in the southern hemisphere, but those regions didn’t have bad flu years.

In most years, there are several strains of the flu virus, but this year it appears there were only a couple of strains that were prevalent in those countries.

“The most common one was the H1N1 and we think there is a good match with the vaccine this year, so we think it’s going to be an average flu year after being kind of a bad one last year,” Dannenhoffer said.

Having only two strains makes it easier to put together an effective vaccine, but when there is a new flu strain, they are not sure how it’s going to work. Then it becomes much harder to put together an immunization that will fight the viruses.

Dannenhoffer recommends children and adults get vaccinated, “the sooner, the better.”

“This year, looks so far to be a typical year and it looks like its going to be the typical viruses and it looks like the vaccine is going to be a pretty good match, so our recommendation is that between now and Christmas would be a perfect time to get a vaccine,” he said. “The sooner, the better.

The vaccinations are available at doctor’s offices and most of the drug stores have them, Dannenhoffer said. There is a good supply of vaccine this year and he said they have not seen any bad effects from the flu vaccine.

“If you do have symptoms, you should stay home and do lots of hand-washing during the flu season with sanitizer, and stay away from sick people,“ he said.

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