Can't predict the flu season
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
WASHINGTON - The fact that the flu season hasn't started with "a big bang" is good news, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
But Fauci cautions that it's too early to tell whether it will be a bad season.
Federal health officials have new recommendations for flu shots this year.
Instead of pushing high-risk groups to get their shots first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now suggests everyone over 6 months old get vaccinated.
"As opposed to previous years, where there were recommendations of older people and pregnant women and others to get vaccinated first, right now, if you're older than 6 months of age and you don't have any specific contrary indications, you should get vaccinated," Fauci says.
Flu season is highly unpredictable. Right now there is little flu activity in the U.S.
Two years ago Faucci says the flu season peaked very early, about this time in October. Flu season came so early, only a limited amount of the flu vaccine was available to inoculate people early enough to help limit the flu from spreading.
This year though, there's plenty of vaccine. Fauci says the strains of flu chosen for this year's vaccine appear to be a good match to strains that have appeared thus far in the southern hemisphere.
Flu season usually peaks in mid-to-late winter in January or February. It can last until May.
Seasonal influenza typically kills more than 36,000 people a year in the U-S and hospitalizes another 200,000, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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