While it hasn’t yet hit the West Coast in full force, Oregon residents should be aware that this year’s flu season is, so far, significantly worse than last year’s. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 3 in 10,000 adults over age 65 have been hospitalized for influenza, as compared to only 1 in 100,000 last year. The flu caused 7.3% of deaths in the U.S. during the first week of the New Year, coming in just above the 7.2% epidemic threshold.
This year’s season “is stacking up to be moderate to severe,” Tom Skinner, a spokesperson for the CDC, told the New York Daily News. “In the past 10 years we have seen just two or three like it.”
At this point, approximately halfway through the generally 12-week flu season, the city of Boston in Massachusetts reported 700 cases—more than 10 times the number of cases during all of last year’s season. In New York City, 15,000 cases have been reported, up 250% from last year. These cities have both declared a public health emergency, as patients clog local hospitals.
It’s expected that the flu season will not peak until the end of January or early February, and doctors advise those who have not done so to get their flu vaccination as soon as possible. While the vaccine isn’t perfect—this year it’s estimated to be 62% successful—the CDC recommends that all individuals over 6 months of age get their flu shots, particularly those over the age of 65, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
by Genevieve Weber