flu

Federal health officials say that, as they anticipated, the flu vaccine isn't very effective this year — but they say it has still prevented thousands of serious illnesses and deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures that, overall, the flu vaccine is 36 percent effective at preventing disease. One bright point for parents of young kids: Children ages 6 months to 8 years responded significantly better to the vaccine than older Americans.

It's already been one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. Now, you can add a late-blooming, but hard-hitting, allergy season to the list of reasons for some Florida residents' sinus miseries.

A legislative effort to allow pharmacists to issue flu tests to sick Floridians is on hold for now. It comes at a time when health officials say this year’s flu season is just as bad as the swine flu epidemic nearly a decade ago.

Students in Duval and Clay counties who did not get a flu shot at school last fall will have another vaccination opportunity next week.

Pensacola ER Nurse In Viral Video: 'Wash Your Stinking Hands'

Feb 4, 2018
Facebook

A nurse's Facebook rant about the "cesspool of funky flu" in a Pensacola area emergency room waiting areas is getting a lot of attention.

The current flu season is still getting worse, federal health officials said Friday. And it continues to take a toll on children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an additional 16 flu deaths among children, bringing the nationwide total this season for youngsters to 53.

Marian Smith somehow missed getting a flu shot this year, which is unlike her — in the past, she always got one.

The 58-year-old Washington D.C. resident says it was easier to remember to get it when the vaccine was provided at a clinic at work. But now the clinic is a bus ride away, and getting the shot wasn't at the top of her mind.

"Of course, I could get it right here at the grocery store," Smith tells NPR, as she rushes to pick up her lunch. "But I just didn't get it — I don't know, I can't tell you why."

Google Maps

The flu has forced one school in Pinellas County to close and others in the Tampa Bay area to send warnings home to parents.

Gulf County Schools To Close For Flu Friday

Jan 26, 2018

The Gulf County School district announced schools would be closed Friday, January 26. It’s the latest sign of a harsh flu season.

The flu doesn't just make you feel lousy. A study published Wednesday finds it can increase your risk of having a heart attack, too.

"We found that you're six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza, compared to the year before or after the infection," says study author Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and family physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario in Canada.

Miami Herald

The flu season in the U.S. is getting worse.

A particularly bad flu virus is burning through Florida and health officials say people can still protect themselves—and others.

“Getting vaccinated can prevent flu in yourself, but it also may prevent flu in people who you are not infecting,” says Dr. Brendan Flannery, an epidemiologist with the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Especially for young children or people who are at high risk of flu, it's very important that people around them are vaccinated.”

Central Florida Seeing Spike In Flu Activity

Jan 18, 2018
The Associated Press

Central Florida is seeing a spike in flu cases. Florida Hospital’s urgent care Centra Care locations saw 1,200 cases last week.

Health officials say the United States could have a harsher than usual flu season, and is already showing influenza activity above the national baseline for the first time this season.

This year, the flu season is expected to be among one of the worst to hit the United States.   

CDC

Influenza season is at its peak nationwide, and Florida is no exception. That's obvious on the map at the Centers for Disease Control website.

Getting the flu while pregnant doesn't appear to increase the child's risk of being diagnosed with autism later on, a study finds, and neither does getting a flu shot while pregnant.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The flu vaccine is doing a better job this year.

Preliminary data suggest it is 59 percent effective. That's a big improvement from last winter's nasty flu season when the vaccine was less than 20 percent effective.

The Associated Press

Florida health officials said it's been a mild flu season so far, unlike the last three seasons when doctor offices were filled with patients before Christmas and illnesses peaked by late December.

Every year before influenza itself arrives to circulate, misinformation and misconceptions about the flu vaccine begin circulating. Some of these contain a grain of truth but end up distorted, like a whispered secret in the Telephone game.

But if you're looking for an excuse not to get the flu vaccine, last year's numbers of its effectiveness would seem a convincing argument on their own. By all measures, last season's flu vaccine flopped, clocking in at about 23 percent effectiveness in preventing lab-confirmed influenza infections.

Hospitals in Miami-Dade County are reporting increases in the amount of flu-related emergency room visits compared to a year ago, the Miami Herald reports. According to a report from the county Department of Health, 5.9 percent of ER visits between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3 were because of the flu. Last year at that time, the flu accounted for 3.6 percent of the ER visits in Miami-Dade, the Herald reports. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Florida is a major player in widespread influenza reported in 43 states so far this season.

Levels of transmission have reached epidemic proportions, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials say that a mutation in the flu virus may be to blame for the rising number of flu cases this year.

A slight change in the flu virus may be partially responsible for the increased flu activity this season, said Dr. David Berman, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at All Children's Hospital in St Petersburg.

Steve Newborn

Nearly 1,000 workers at Lee Memorial Health System -- and about 2,000 volunteers -- have been given extra time to get a flu shot under a new rule, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. About 10 percent of Lee Memorial’s workforce missed the original Dec. 1 deadline. Employees can now be disciplined, even fired, if they don’t get the shot or approved for an exemption by Friday, the News-Press reports. 

Florida health officials say two children have died from the flu.

The Florida Department of Health reported last week that the victims lived in Orange and Pasco counties, but the agency didn't release their names, ages or circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Last year, about half of Hillsborough County's Medicare recipients were vaccinated for the flu. But during most flu seasons, adults 65 years of age and older account for 90 percent of all flu-related deaths.

That's why the Hillsborough County Department of Aging is teaming with the National Council on Aging’s “Flu + You” campaign to encourage seniors to get flu shots at the Senior Fun Fest Friday) in Brandon.

A 6-year-old girl who nearly died after testing positive for influenza and strep was expected to make a full recovery, her doctors said Tuesday from the Miami hospital where she was being treated.

Victoria Bermudez was diagnosed in February. After being rushed to the emergency room, she went into cardiac arrest three times and her body went into septic shock, impacting her organs.

Central Florida health officials have confirmed another flu-related death, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The 63-year-old diabetic woman who died Wednesday is the third patient in Brevard County this year to succumb to the H1N1 strain of the virus. 

Steve Newborn

 Two more flu-related deaths have been reported in Orange County, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The most recent deaths include a child and a 54-year-old woman who worked in the auditing department at Florida Hospital.

    

The woman, Mary Lamb, had the H1N1 strain of the flu and spent 18 days on a respirator before dying, her husband said. That strain also has been linked to the deaths of two women in their 30s in Brevard County.

This year’s flu epidemic is well under way across the nation, and Florida is no exception. Each year about 3,000 Floridians die from flu or related complications, health officials estimate.

Recent reports have cited two deaths of pregnant women in Brevard County and 12 deaths in Gainesville; now another two have died in Broward, CBS4 reports.

Nearly all of the Gainesville-area residents who died from flu this season didn’t have vaccinations. And flu shots may have prevented those illnesses, says the Gainesville Sun’s editorial board. A record number of school-age children in Alachua County were vaccinated last year, but the town’s huge population of college-age students also should be a priority for getting flu shots, the board said.

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