It appears that this may be a “bad” season for influenza. Every year the flu vaccine is made months ahead of the flu season. Experts must try and predict the influenza strains that will circulate in the upcoming flu season based on trends seen in other parts of the world. Although it is still early in the season, samples collected from people infected with the flu this fall show only about 50% of the strains detected were included in this year’s vaccine, indicating the virus has mutated. The director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, has said that the most prevent strain this year (H3N2) has in the past been associated with severe infections, particularly for high risk patients. However, it is still important to get the flu shot, if you haven’t already. Even if you are infected with a strain not covered in this year’s flu shot, your symptoms are likely to be less severe if you have gotten the flu shot.
It is also important this year in particular to call your doctor if you think you have the flu, so you can start on anti-viral medications. These medications may help decrease the severity of the infection and reduce the chance of complications related to influenza.