The flu this year is more intense than it has been in more than a decade.
It is a record-breaking year for the flu locally and nationally. There have been 1,749 cases reported in Franklin County so far this flu season. That is up from the 1,672 reported last year.
It could be because the developers of the vaccine missed the mark — a moving target every year — but there’s likely more to the epidemic.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the vaccine has been effective against roughly 30 percent of the most common flu viruses, including H3, this year.
The flu season is long and health officials recommend that anyone who has not had a flu shot still get it. The peak of flu season began in November 2017 and runs through March.
Although this year’s flu vaccination has not been as effective as previous shots, it still can reduce the severity of the virus if someone who gets the vaccine is infected.
The severity of this flu season can’t be narrowed down to one specific cause, however, too often sick employees still go to work despite illness. The work culture in the United States is partly to blame. It is too often that employees go to work because they can’t afford to miss it. Missing a day or two to the flu could mean being late for rent, or worse.
Children also can spread the flu when they go to school with the bug. Schools can be a petri dish that leads to the quick contamination of other students in close proximity with each other in the classroom or on the bus. When unwashed hands touch doorknobs and staircase railings the flu can be spread very quickly.
School-aged children make up 20 percent of flu cases in the county. Ages 5 to 14 comprise the largest subgroup of people in the county with the flu. There are 349 cases.
Children and adults alike are urged to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms. Other tips to prevent the spread of the virus are to avoid close contact with people who are sick, cover mouths and noses with tissues when sneezing and coughing, and wash hands with soap and water regularly.