Health officials: Flu rampant in NY


As many as 646,000 people are dying globally from seasonal influenza each year, US health officials said on Wednesday, a rise from earlier assessments of the disease's death toll. Numbers of local cases were not readily available from Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center.

The annual peak for flu season is still ahead, but already Southcoast Health doctors are seeing a pickup in the number of cases they have treated.

"Even if you still get the flu, vaccination can reduce the length of time you are sick", she said.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months and older be subject to a flu vaccine every year.

Earlier research estimated the death toll to range anywhere from 250,000-500,000 deaths from all illnesses related to the flu.

"Individuals under a physician's care for chronic medical conditions and children under the age of three years are asked to obtain a prescription for flu immunization from their private physician".

The CDC notes that the 10 percent figure is an Australian interim estimate of the vaccine's benefit against one flu virus - the H3N2 virus - that circulated in Australia during its most recent flu season. The CDC says worldwide, flu deaths are spiking.

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The New England Journal of Medicine study is based largely on reports from Australia, which gets the flu season before this side of the world.

There have also been 612 influenza-related hospitalizations reported in the state.

Dr. Wallace said children are more likely to get the flu because they're always close to other children. Current vaccines are said to provide better immunization against influenza B and influenza A (H1N1) viruses and offer lower protection against influenza A (H3N2) viruses.

The county reminds its residents there is no live virus in flu shots and the vaccine can not cause the flu. The vaccine is the same formula that was used during Australia's most recent flu season- which is similar to what the USA will face.

"When we measure vaccine effectiveness, that's effectiveness against protecting against disease completely", said Schaffner, who was not involved in the CDC research, though he is a liaison representative of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which develops recommendations on the use of vaccines for the CDC.

When certain people get sick, they are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.