Experts Predict Another Severe Flu Season in Massachusetts
We're heading into the peak of flu season here in The Berkshires and across the rest country and experts are predicting another rough flu season for everyone.
According to Boston.com this year's flu season is shaping up to be a severe one and health officials are warning people that the activity for the virus is likely to increase over the next few weeks.
Dr. Larry Madfoff, director of the division of epidemiology and immunization at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, believes this year will be quite similar to last year, during which there were more incidents of hospitalization and deaths, about 80,000, in the United States than any other flu season in decades.
The good news for Berkshire County residents is that the Department of Public Health says the northeast and southeast areas of the state are experiencing the highest levels of influenza like illness. However the department is predicting that activity for the virus nationwide is likely to increase over the next few weeks and according to the Center for Disease Control, Massachusetts as a whole is one of the states experiencing high levels of influenza activity.
Regardless of where you live medical professionals are still recommending that everyone is vaccinated against this year's virus, but exactly how effective this year’s vaccine is probably won’t really be known for a couple more weeks, according to Madoff.
It’s always tough to predict what the vaccine efficacy or effectiveness is going to be, and it varies every year, from year to year. So far the best indication that we have is that the circulating strains appear to match the vaccine strains antigenically, so that’s a good thing
Dr. Madoff via Boston.com
According to Madoff, it takes a few weeks for the vaccination to reach it's peak effectiveness, so getting it now is a good idea. Considering the flu is likely to be around for weeks and months to come, there’s still time to get vaccinated against influenza if you haven’t already.
In addition to vaccination, experts from the medical field continue to urge people to use hand washing and alcohol rubs to keep from passing the virus to their own mouths, noses or eyes, from touching surfaces that may be contaminated. If you do have symptoms of the virus, help prevent spreading flu to other people, cover your cough, your sneeze, and stay home if you’re sick.
Anyone who is at risk for severe disease from the flu, such as young children, the elderly those with heart disease, asthma, or conditions that compromise the immune system are urged to contact their medical provider if they think they’re getting the virus.