When I heard the news the flu was now epidemic in the U.S., I headed Friday to my local Walgreens only to be told they were currently out of the vaccine. Naturally. Spot shortages are being reported everywhere.
For the week ending Jan. 5, the following state-by-state information was available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Widespread influenza activity was reported by 47 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
Regional influenza activity was reported by 2 states (California and Mississippi). The District of Columbia reported local influenza activity. Sporadic influenza activity was reported by 1 state (Hawaii).
With an epidemic outbreak of the flu, and the worst of it predicted to still be coming, I was a little surprised to learn that only 35 percent of Americans received the flu vaccine. The Washington Post reported on some of the reasons why a whopping 64.8 percent of people haven’t received the flu vaccine this season. The results of a 2011 study reported on in the article found the top three reasons adults haven’t had a flu vaccine were: “I don’t need it,” “I didn’t get around to it,” and “I don’t believe in flu vaccines.”
I fall right into that second answer. For no other reason than sheer laziness, I didn’t get a flu vaccine this past fall.
The CDC reported this year’s flu vaccine is 62 percent effective. The strain responsible for this season’s flu outbreak is reported to be Influenza A (H3N2), which is covered in the current flu vaccine. Dr. Joe Bresee from the CDC said, “typically ‘H3N2 seasons’ have been more severe, with higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, but we will have to see how the season plays out.”
“It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu,” but it isn’t too late to get one, said the CDC on its website.
I will try again this week to get the flu vaccine. Will you? Take our poll:
Watch a clip from CNN on the flu epidemic: