Ninety-seven people from ages zero to 64 have died in connection with contracting the flu this season in California alone.
Newly released numbers of flu deaths in the third week of 2018 revealed 23 deaths in the week according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Every state in the nation except Hawaii saw widespread flu activity in the third week of 2018 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). California had high, but not the highest level of influenza activity among U.S. states in that week.
Numbers of those fighting the H3N2 strain of flu this season have been higher than expected according to the Sacrament Bee. This year’s fatality count has already surpassed the 95 fatalities seen is all of the 2016-2017 season.
UC Davis Health infectious disease expert Dr. Christian Sandrock blamed the less effectiveness of this season’s flu vaccine on mutations that occurred during the cultivation of the virus included in the vaccine during a period of the virus’ growth. The Bee reported that according to Sandrock, the World Health Organization chose the right virus for the vaccine back in March or April of 2017, but the mutation is what has caused the vaccine to be less effective.
Sandrock put the “efficacy” of the vaccine at 20-30 percent, adding that it can still provide “some protection.”
The CDPH marks late December to early February as the timeframe during which typical flu activity peaks each year.
The CDC and Prevention has advised against use of the nasal form of the flu vaccine this flu season. While it does recommend flu vaccination, the organization also recommends that people who are not sick avoid those who are sick and those who are sick to stay home. Also recommended is washing hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds at a time. Hand sanitizer may be used if soap and water are not available. Do not share utensils between sick and healthy people until after the utensils have been thoroughly washed.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana