Iowa flu death toll triple what it was previous year

Tonya Becker
March 1, 2018

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they're cautious about saying the flu season has peaked but called the downturn encouraging. While flu cases may be on the decline, it's still a good idea to get the shot, area health officials said.

Against all types of influenza, its effectiveness is 36 percent; among children aged 6 months through 8 years, its effectiveness is 59 percent. The vaccines did do much better for other viruses that are also causing the flu this season.

It looks like the nasty flu season we've been experiencing is leveling off, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

The Berks Visiting Nurse Association has provided over 1,300 flu shots this year, and there's been strong interest in the vaccine as the news of the bad flu season has intensified, said Amanda Price, a licensed practical nurse for the Berks Visiting Nurse Association.


"We know as long as there is flu activity out there, you should get vaccinated and that's one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk and reducing the severity of the flu if you do get it", said McCall.

The flu season has had severe cases caused predominantly by type A flu strains, like H3N2. "The vaccine is never flawless, but is does appear to still have some protectiveness to it".

The percentage of visits for influenza-like illnesses dropped from 13 percent to 11 percent of overall visits, according to reporting hospitals and clinics in the most recent DSHS report.

About half of the children who have died were otherwise healthy, and most weren't fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.


US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, today weighed in on steps the FDA it taking to improve the effectiveness of seasonal flu vaccines, which includes collaborating with partners at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to use a large database that includes information on flu vaccines given to 4 million people.

Some theories: Maybe protection against H3N2 requires "a higher amount of H3N2 antigen to elicit a proper immune response", compared to that needed against other strains, Gottlieb said. As I noted previously, the work conducted with CMS shows a preliminary finding that suggests the cell-based influenza vaccine might be somewhat more effective than the egg-based vaccine.

The proportion of visits to the doctor for flu-like symptoms also dipped to 6.4 percent of medical appointments for the week ended February 17, according to the CDC. We must continue to be diligent in doing our part to prevent the spread of flu however possible, including remembering to wash your hands frequently and staying home when you are sick. Both are misconceptions, including pregnant women shouldn't get vaccinated and the vaccine actually gives you flu.

The FDA remains committed to determining the root cause for the shortcomings observed in the effectiveness of this season's flu vaccine against H3N2, notifying the public of our work as we gain new insights, and applying what we learn to future vaccine development.


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