HOUSTON - This is shaping up to be a nasty flu season.
The CDC is reporting the influenza virus is widespread across Texas. To make matters worse, this year’s flu vaccine is only 10% effective against the strain going around.
“The flu vaccine has to be formulated months in advance in order to have it ready. It’s already been used in Australia, because they’re on a different season. It’s already been flu season there. What we found in Australia was the vaccine was only around ten percent effective,” said Catherine Troisi, PhD, infectious disease epidemiologist with UTHealth School of Public Health.
Experts say getting a flu shot is still a good idea, since flu season could last several more months.
“There’s still a benefit to getting vaccinated because if you do get the flu, your symptoms will be milder,” Troisi said. “Last year we saw in the United States 110 pediatric deaths from flu. That’s 110 deaths that really could have been prevented.”
Fever, chills, congestion, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue are common symptoms of the influenza virus.
“One of the hallmarks is it’s a sudden onset. You can pretty much say the hour that you came down with it, unlike a cold where a day you’re not feeling well then the next day it’s a little worse,” said Troisi. “There are anti-virals available. You need to take them very quickly though. So if you’ve been exposed to the flu and you start coming down with symptoms, then get to your health care professional and get a prescription.”