The flu season has officially arrived in Star Valley. Star Valley Medical Center has seen several cases of influenza.
“This year’s flu season has started earlier and more severe than in recent years,” said Mike Kentner, director of nursing at SVMC. “During the last two weeks we have had several cases of the flu come through the Emergency Department and the Physicians Clinics, and all of those cases have been individuals who had not gotten a flu shot this season.”
According to information provided by the Star Valley Medical Center, influenza activity “is early this year and is increasing in the United States, especially on the east coast.” Further increases are expected in the coming weeks.
“The CDC urges you to get a flu vaccine now if you have not done so already this season,” said Kentner. “Vaccination is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself and others against infection.”
According to information provided by Star Valley Medical Center, the last conventional flu season that started this early was the winter of 2003-2004. That flu season “proved to be one of the most lethal seasons in the past 35 years with more than 48,000 deaths related to the flu.”
According to Star Valley Medical Center, the dominant type of flu from the 2003-2004 season “is the same one seen this year.”
However, according to the medical center, there are some key differences between the two flu seasons.
One key difference is that in 2003-2004 the vaccine “was poorly matched with the predominant flu virus.”
“There is more vaccine available this year and vaccine rates have risen for the general public and key groups like pregnant women and healthcare workers,” Kentner said.
According to the CDC, an estimated 112,000,000 people have been vaccinated against the flu this year. Another change is that Star Valley Medical Center has implemented a mandatory flu shot policy for all its employees this year.
“It’s not too late to get vaccinated,” said Kentner. “Our clinics have ample supply of the flu vaccine and are prepared to offer flu shots to anyone who would like the added protection against the flu.”
Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone over the age of six months.