This year’s flu season has been a particularly bad one, and we now know why. The CDC says the flu vaccine is only 23% effective, not covering the strain that’s causing the most misery around the country and the Valley.
At Eisenhower Medical Center’s Emergency Room, almost every bed taken up Friday afternoon,doctors seeing an influx of people coming in with the flu.
While this seasonal virus can keep you at home for a few days, it also can be deadly and knowing when to seek help can make all the difference.
Whether you live in the desert year round or a Canadian snowbird, it’s the same vaccine that’s letting us down this season.
“For three days I was just bedridden,” said Indio resident Jasmine Manning.
During the best flu season the vaccine is 50-60 percent effective. This year, it’s only 23%, one of the least effective in a decade according to the CDC.
“This has been an exceptional last month in the emergency department, we’ve seen record numbers, over 25% increase from our last year volume,” Eisenhower Medical Center medical director Dr. Euthym Kontaxis.
The virus is also lasting longer about 5 days on average.
“I think people are feeling a lot worse, more muscles pain and symptoms seem to be lasting longer, the stats bare out that children a are particularly susceptible to this virus young children so that is something to pay attention to,” said Kontaxis.
It’s already claimed the lives of 45 children nationwide and flu season is far from over.
“If you look at pandemics of flu it’s killed off millions of people in history, so its a serious disease. The question is most people when they get it they are just sick for a week and they get better, it affects the people that are the most vulnerable,” explains Kontaxis.
So what can you do to protect you and your family? The CDC says if you haven’t already get a flu shot.
“If 23% of the time you can have success or mitigated the symptoms it’s probably worth it,” said Kontaxis.
If you do come down with the virus.
“The best thing to do is to hydrate, stay in bed and take care of yourself, rest, not expose yourself to other people,” said Kontaxis.
Also don’t be afraid to get medical care.
“If you are starting to have symptoms of chills and fever it’s a time to talk to your doctor about antiviral meds such as Tamiflu. If you are feeling extremely short of breathe or your feeling like you are having chest pain or signs of pneumonia those would be signs to come to the ER,” said Kontaxis.
If you have already gotten sick, you still might not be in the clear. There are four strains out there,so it’s possible you could get sick again. that’s why the CDC and doctors still strongly recommend getting a flu shot.