Flu season peaks but not over; shot effective this year


"In many parts of Canada, including British Columbia, we have passed the peak in influenza activity due to the now dominating strain, which is an H1N1 kind of strain", Skowronski said.

For young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems, the flu virus can be deadly, and it isn't always obvious who is vulnerable. It is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs) that can cause secondary complications and attack other organs in the body.

Flu hospitalizations across the state are almost identical to last year but there have been more influenza-related deaths this year compared to last year during the same week, Warner said in the email. "It's not that the virus is more virulent".

As for whether this season has been weaker than others, Henry says it depends on how you look at it, pointing out younger people are better able to fight the virus.

Overall, the effectiveness of last year's flu shot was estimated to be 40%, meaning getting vaccinated reduced an individual's risk of seeking medical care by 40%. Private schools have also closed in additional states, including in California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana and West Virginia.

Skowronski said there has been a lot of regional variation in the timing and intensity of the influenza epidemic across the country.

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She adds older people seem to have some sort of resistance to that strain, but have still been dealing with H3N2, a type that has been more prevalent over the last couple of years. Alberta and B.C., for instance, started seeing cases early in the season, while areas in Eastern Canada were hit later and may not have reached their peak. "It's pretty unusual to see young, otherwise healthy people die of the flu in non-pandemic years, but it does happen".

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is urging state residents to get vaccinated against influenza as cases of the disease are rising across the state.

"But we have to remember that even after we've passed the peak, there are still several weeks of influenza activity even on the downslope of the curve".

"The flu vaccine is always good to get every season", McConnell said.

The bad news, the report says, is that only about one in three upstate NY adults regularly get their flu vaccine.