Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Flu Season Off to Slow Start . . .

. . . But U.S. health officials expect outbreaks to pick up in next several weeks and recommend vaccination
Font Size
A
A
A

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The 16-day federal government shutdown earlier this month hindered the ability of U.S. health officials to monitor flu activity around the country.

Turns out, there wasn't much to monitor because there haven't been many outbreaks of the infectious disease so far this fall, officials said.

But that could change at a moment's notice, noted the health officials, who are fond of saying that the only thing predictable about the flu is its unpredictability.

So far, there have been isolated cases of flu in Alabama, South Carolina and Texas, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The flu has been pretty quiet right now," said Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in the CDC's Influenza Division. "But flu is coming, it's right around the corner and we expect an increase to come in the next few weeks."

And now's a perfect time to get vaccinated, he said, adding, "it's never too late to get vaccinated."

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu, and there's plenty of vaccine to go around, Bresee pointed out.

"We expect to have 135 to 139 million doses available, so there should be plenty of vaccine to vaccinate anybody who wants to be vaccinated," he said.

The number of Americans getting vaccinated has risen since the H1N1 pandemic flu in 2009, according to Bresee.

"It's edging up in most groups, which is really gratifying, especially in some of the high-risk groups like pregnant women and kids. We are seeing good gains over the last four or five years," he noted.

"But we have a long way to go," he added. "Still only half of Americans get vaccinated. Vaccine is still the single best thing folks can do to prevent flu."

It's too early to tell, however, whether this year's vaccine will be a good match for the flu strains that are circulating.

"As with most things with flu, we always hedge a little bit. We do know the vaccine is a good match for the strains that have circulated around the world and the U.S. over the summertime and that's a good sign. But we won't know really until we get into the season, but we think it will be pretty good," Bresee said.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
 
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
 
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
Slideshow
cold weather
VIDEO
 
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Article
Boy holding ear
Slideshow
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman receiving vaccine shot
Article
woman with fever
Article
 
Waking up from sleep
Article
woman with sore throat
Slideshow