Flu season is here -- and so far it’s a bad one

By  | 

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Doctors are bracing for a potentially harsh flu season this winter.

Nationwide, they’ve confirmed more than 7,000 cases, which is double the number this time last year. That includes more than 230 infections in Minnesota.

And the flu is widespread in other states.

Now there is a report that the vaccine may be only 10 percent effective.

That report focused on only one strain of influenza found in Australia, but the Centers for Disease Control say it’s too early to tell how well our vaccine will work against the flu bug in the United States this season.

“I always say sudden-onset flu is going to make you feel like you were hit by a bus,” said nurse practitioner Katie Brula.

Brula works for Virtuwell, an online clinic by Health Partners. She says lots of people are logging on and asking for help in diagnosing their conditions, and many are being told they have the flu.

“For the most part it’s going to be respiratory stuff with that fever, aches, headaches and just that real general ‘I feel awful’ fatigue,” Brula said.

Last season, vaccine effectiveness against all flu viruses was nearly 40 percent. Studies show that number can go as high as 60 percent when the shot’s a better match.

Experts say people with compromised immune systems, the very young, the very old, pregnant women and emphysema sufferers should get the flu shot every year.

The vaccine plus proper hygiene, such as hand-washing and covering your cough, are your best bets for staying healthy.