If you haven't already gotten your flu shot, local health professional believe you should because experts say this flu season will be a bad one. 53 were diagnosed with the type A flu virus, and 49 others were confirmed with the type B influenza.
Fleming said four might not seem like a lot but confirmed cases "are the tip of the iceberg".
"The numbers are tiny right now, but they're just the tip of the iceberg", said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, vice president for clinical affairs at the University of New England in Biddeford and Maine's former top public health official. "We generally start seeing an increase about now, and we'll gradually see more as time goes on". That's because the flu vaccine is reformulated annually to contain the strains of the virus most likely to hit folks hard the following year.
Past year in Canada and the US, the vaccine was found to be only 35 per cent effective in preventing cases of H3N2 influenza, she said. The Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative, on the other hand, seeks to target additional flu proteins, such as the stalk, a much more stable region.
A total of 282 reported lab cases of the flu were confirmed past year in Genesee County and 83 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Orleans County. "The flu has the ability to infect each and every one of us, even those who claim they "never get the flu".
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This possibility underscores the need to strive toward a "universal" influenza vaccine that will protect against seasonal influenza drift variants as well as potential pandemic strains, with better durability than current annual vaccines. Said Patsy Kelso with the Vermont Department of Health.
This season so far, Oklahoma has seen two fatalities from influenza, while five deaths related to the flu were reported in North Carolina. Nationwide since October 1, 566 have been hospitalized for influenza and 148 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed.
The Mass. Department of Public Health recommends anyone six months and older receive one vaccination per flu season.
This year's vaccines targets the same strains as last year.
Mendez said "it's definitely not too late" - it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become effective, so now is a good time for people who to plan on traveling this holiday season to get vaccinated, she said. "And at the end of the day, to know that we might be able to protect the most vulnerable around us with a universal influenza vaccine - that's a reason to get excited about science".