Hospitals are packed with patients as doctors deal with the worst flu season they’ve seen in years, and it’s expected to get worse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting widespread flu activity in 46 states.The most recent report in Florida shows six outbreaks, three in Duval County.
“We are just short of what’s called an epidemic by the Center for Disease Control,” Dr. Vandana Bhide said.
Maps from the Florida Department of Health show widespread activity that has spiked in the past four weeks.
The Mandarin United Methodist Rev. Mike Gross said he followed his wife’s advice and got the vaccine, but he still got the flu. He said the virus has spread like wildfire through the congregation.
“Its been a pretty bad season. I think over the holidays especially we saw a lot of people that were coming down with it,” Gross said.
Doctors say the reason for this is an especially severe strain of H3N2, and a vaccine that’s only mildly effective.
Dr. Marie Crandall with UF Health Jacksonville says, “The usual effectiveness is about 40 percent to 60 percent. There have been some reports that it’s only about 10 percent against the H3N2.”
Experts say many patients aren’t aware when they’re putting themselves at risk.
Bhide said many people are catching the flu in public, on airplanes, at gyms, and movie theaters. She said viruses can live on surfaces up to 24 hours.
Lifestyle is also a factor, as people who drink alcohol or smoke are more susceptible to the virus.
Physicians are still encouraging the flu shot, especially in those older than 50.
“It may protect from death. So not only will you have as severe symptoms, but it can really be protective of the complications,” Bhide said.
© 2020 Cox Media Group