Flu News

Vaccination Recommended for Everyone

In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported flu­ related hospitalizations of the  elderly are the highest since government officials started tracking these numbers nine years ago. Almost 200 out of every 100,000 people who are 65 and older have been hospitalized with the flu. That’s roughly 86,000 people.

image145-1Unfortunately, the 2015 vaccine has proven to be only 23% effective. This vaccine’s formula does not contain the virus H2N2 which has been predominantly circulating. In the best flu season, the vaccine has been 50% to 60% effective. Hopefully, we have reached the peak of the flu season and the infection rate will continue to decrease.

Despite the limited protection provided by this season’s influenza vaccine, the CDC repeated its recommendation for vaccination of everyone aged 6 months and older. By early November 2014, only 40% of eligible people in the United States had received this season’s influenza vaccine.

Experts compare influenza vaccination with wearing a seat-belt in a car: It may not protect from high ­speed crashes all the time, but some protection is better than none. They believe if they could pick the vaccine strains later in the year instead of in February, there would have been more evidence to choose the viruses they believe will be dominant in the upcoming year.

In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Rapivab (peramivir) to treat influenza infection in adults.

Rapivab is administered as a single intravenous (IV) dose. It is intended for people 18 years and older who have acute uncomplicated influenza and have shown symptoms of flu for no more than two days. A common side effect of Rapivab is diarrhea. Rare but serious side effects include serious skin or hypersensitivity reactions.

Similar drugs to treat flu include osel­ tamivir (Tamiflu) administered orally, and zanamivir (Relenza) which is inhaled. Older antiviral drugs for flu, amantadine and rimantadine, are no longer recommended by the CDC because circulating influenza strains are resistant to these drugs.

image147The 2004 to 2011 National Health Interview Survey data for working adults 40 to 70 years old was analyzed to estimate the prevalence of COPD by major occupational groups. The estimated overall COPD preva­ lence was 4.2%. The odds of getting COPD were highest among workers in health care support occupations followed by food preparation and serving related occupations.