- This year’s flu season is shaping up to be the longest in a decade, lasting for 21 weeks so far.
- A second wave that started in February is likely to blame for the season’s record-breaking length.
- It’s a harsher bug that, unfortunately, is not “well matched” to the strains that the flu shot protects against.
Spring allergies or flu symptoms? Totally legit question because—bummer news alert—this flu season has officially been going on for 21 weeks (but who’s counting?). And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s stopping soon, thanks to a second wave that’s still going strong, according to reports collected and released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The current season began the week of Thanksgiving, which is a normal start time for the virus. It didn’t cause too many hospitalizations, at least not initially, the AP reports. That’s because this year’s flu shot protected against the strain that originally started spreading.
Then February hit, and with it, a new strain. This one was “not well matched” with the vaccine, the CDC’s Lynnette Brammer told the AP. That led to more illnesses and more hospitalizations.
So yeah, we basically are experiencing “two different flu seasons, compressed, back-t0-back, into one,” per the Today Show.
Symptoms of allergies and the flu can be confusing, and now, an unexpected second viral wave of the flu is spreading across the country – making this the longest flu season in 10 [email protected] explains the symptoms to watch for. pic.twitter.com/Fxk82MSebM
Unfortunately, if you’ve caught one strain of the flu earlier in the season, you can still catch another type, as Keri Peterson, MD, previously told Women’s Health.
Although record-breaking in length, this flu season is not as deadly as last winter’s 19-week one, which resulted in 80,000 American deaths due to flu and its complications. This year, the CDC estimates there have been between 35,000-55,000 flu-related deaths.
Oh, and friendly reminder: “Just because the vaccine isn’t 100 percent [effective] doesn’t mean it’s worthless,” Amesh Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, previously told Women’s Health about the flu shot. “And even if you do get the flu, [if you’re vaccinated] you are much less likely to have a severe case requiring hospitalization, less likely to have major destruction to your life, and less likely to spread it.”
So at the risk of sounding like your mom…please don’t skip the flu shot!
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