Anecdotally this might seem to be one of the most difficult flu seasons in years. Numbers indicate that might be true for other parts of the country.
Not so for the region covered by the Bear River Health Department — Cache, Rich and Box Elder Counties — according to the BRHD’s Lisa Perkins.
“In our district we are not seeing anything significantly higher or lower this season,” said Perkins, the department’s Immunization Program Manager. “We are still seeing a lot of cases, which is routine this time of the year. It isn’t outside of the norm like we are hearing about in some other areas of the country.
“February is typically our peak time for number of flu cases and then it usually starts to decrease. This year we are anticipating we will continue to see the flu season for several more weeks, at least through March. But we haven’t seen signs of a decrease yet.”
Perkins said there has been an increase in the number of hospitalizations in the district the last several weeks, most of those of those involving patients 65 and older. She said that, too, is typical of this time of the year.
She said H3N2 is the most prevalent flu strain this year.
“It is the most common strain and it is included in this year’s flu vaccine. The CDC just completed studies indicating the effectiveness rate of the current vaccine is about 36 percent. But even if you contract a strain that is not covered in the flu shot, it is still helping to decrease the severity of the influenza that you would get.”
Her message is keep washing your hands often throughout the day, cover your coughs, if you are sick stay home and if you haven’t gotten a flu shot it is not too late.
“At the health department we do offer the quadrivalent which means it protects against four strains of the flu, where it used to be three.”
The Bear River Health Department is open Monday-Thursday, 8 am-6 pm and Friday 8 am-1 pm. Most major insurances are accepted. Otherwise a flu shot is $25.