Will this year be a bad one for the flu?
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
Time to roll up your sleeves! Flu season is here and that tiny pinprick from a flu shot doesn’t remotely compare with the misery influenza brings: fever, aches, sore throat, weakness and in general, feeling as though you’ve been run over by a Mack truck. The season typically lasts from October until May, although you can also get the flu during other months of the year.
The Centers for Disease Control says most everyone over six months old should get the vaccine, especially young children, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. According to the CDC, during the 2018 -2019 season more than 60,000 people in the United States actually died from the flu.
Why are some flu seasons worse than others?
Several years ago, both of my elementary school boys got the flu, despite being vaccinated. Ugh! Our pediatrician told me the virus changes each year, and those little changes can have a big impact on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. Fortunately, my little ones (who are now young teens) were treated within 48 hours with Tamiflu, an anti-viral drug which can lessen flu’s symptoms and severity. Our doctor also prescribed Tamiflu for me since I was caring for those coughing cuties! At the time I didn’t even realize Tamiflu can help prevent the flu for healthy people who have been exposed.
Each season, scientists do their best to predict which strains of flu will be prevalent so they can design a vaccine that works but sometimes that nasty bug surprises even the experts! You can read more about the CDC’s flu forecast team here.
Flu Predictions for 2019-2020
Here’s some GOOD flu news! I found some really fascinating information about new flu forecasting techniques on the University of Chicago website. Researchers there recently discovered they could forecast flu season more accurately by studying the genetic mutation of various flu strains over time to predict how those genes would change in the future.
Some experts also study flu season in Australia, which happens during the summer in the U.S. for hints about what we may be facing here. But the CDC says it won’t have enough data to accurately predict how severe the 2019 flu season will be until late October. Only a few states have reported flu cases so far this year; check this CDC map weekly for updates.
Is it the flu or a common cold?
Experts at the Mayo Clinic says if your illness comes on gradually, you likely have a cold. But if it hits you suddenly with a fever, weakness, body aches and chills, there’s a good chance you have the flu.
Please be kind to yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated! The CDC even provides this flu vaccine finder to help you locate a convenient place to get it in your zip code.
And don’t be a stranger! Check back here for medical and health news, wellness updates and tips from a fellow Mom in the trenches, and contact us here at MDBox with your questions. Let’s keep our families healthy together!