Breaking News: Flu season has not started yet. (see below)
While flu season typically peaks in February, it is very important to understand that there are few things that are typical about the flu.
Since 1982, while we have been twice as likely to see a flu activity peak in February than other winter months, we have been just as likely to get that peak in December, January, or March. That makes it important to get your flu vaccine as soon as you can.
You really never know if it is going to be an early, average, or late flu season.
While there will likely be some surprises this flu season – there always are – there are some things that you can unfortunately count on.
Among these flu facts include that:
- there have been 1,597 pediatric flu deaths since the 2003-04 flu season, including 105 flu deaths last year
- about 113 kids die of the flu each year – most of them unvaccinated
- antiviral flu medicines, such as Tamiflu, while recommended to treat high-risk people, including kids under 2 to 5 years of age, have very modest benefits at best (they don’t do all that much, are expensive, don’t taste good, and can have side effects, etc.)
- a flu vaccine is the best way to decrease your child’s chances of getting the flu
And even in a mild flu season, a lot of kids get sick with the flu.
This Year’s Flu Season
When does flu season start?
In general, flu season starts when you begin to see people around you with signs and symptoms of the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue, etc.
To be more accurate, you can also look at reports for flu activity in your area, especially the weekly reports from the CDC.
Those flu reports can also help you determine when flu season ends.
As of September, the CDC is reporting that “flu activity is low.”
The CDC has also recently reported that:
- a study reporting about a possible association between miscarriage and flu shots in pregnancy “does not quantify the risk of miscarriage and does not prove that flu vaccine was the cause of the miscarriage.” Get your flu shot if you are pregnant!
- between 151 to 166 million doses of flu vaccine will be available this year, including 130 million doses of thimerosal-free or preservative-free flu shots, so the great majority of flu shots will not contain mercury!
- last year’s flu vaccine reduces “the risk for influenza-associated medical visits by approximately half”
- we still won’t have a nasal spray flu vaccine in the US this year, even though it is working well in other countries
- This year’s flu vaccine didn’t change much, except that “The A(H1N1)pdm09 virus has been updated compared to the virus recommended for northern hemisphere 2016-2017 influenza season.”
- there were 105 pediatric deaths during last year’s flu season
Have you and your family gotten been vaccinated and protected against the flu yet?
“Anyone who has not gotten vaccinated yet this season should get vaccinated now.”
CDC Influenza Situation Update
If not, this a great time to get a flu vaccine.
Recent Flu Seasons
Are H3N2 predominant flu seasons really worse than others?
- 2003-04 flu season – 152 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
- 2004-05 flu season – 47 pediatric flu deaths
- 2005-06 flu season – 46 pediatric flu deaths
- 2006-07 flu season – 77 pediatric flu deaths
- 2007-08 flu season – 88 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
- 2008-09 flu season – 137 pediatric flu deaths
- 2009-10 flu season – 289 pediatric flu deaths (swine flu pandemic)
- 2010-11 flu season – 123 pediatric flu deaths
- 2011-12 flu season – 37 pediatric flu deaths
- 2012-13 flu season – 171 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
- 2013-14 flu season – 111 pediatric flu deaths
- 2014-15 flu season – 148 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
- 2015-16 flu season – 92 pediatric flu deaths
- 2016-17 flu season – 105 pediatric flu deaths (H3N2-predominant)
In addition to high levels of pediatric flu deaths, the CDC reports that the four flu seasons that were H3N2-predominant in recent years were “the four seasons with the highest flu-associated mortality levels in the past decade.”
For More Information on the 2017-18 Flu Season
- CDC – Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report
- CDC – Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report
- CDC – Update: Influenza Activity — United States, October 2, 2016–February 4, 2017
- CDC – Interim Estimates of 2016–17 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2017
- CDC – Past Weekly Surveillance Reports (1999-2016)
- CDC – Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2016-2017 Influenza Season
- Flu Near You
- WHO – Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System
- Flu News Europe
- FluWatch Canada
- UK Weekly national flu reports
- WHO – Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2017-2018 northern hemisphere influenza season
Updated September 13, 2017