This project, directed by Dr. James Crowe, also a pediatric infectious diseases physician at VUMC, seeks to develop a vaccine that will protect against all strains of flu.
At the core of vaccine creation lies hemagglutinin, a protein on influenza viruses that allows flu to penetrate cells. "And, nationally, there's been a significant increase in the last several weeks as well", says Allegheny General Hospital internist Dr. Marc Itskowitz.
Local health officials say that because of the influenza presence in Flathead County it's more important than ever to get a flu shot.
"But we can not say we will go on to experience the kind of severe season Australia had, in part because we ourselves had a fairly severe epidemic due to H3N2 in 2016-17", Skowronski said.
Makers of the vaccine, though, say the strain of the flu that hit Australia may not be the same one that affects the US this year.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs.
Though the vaccine may not be ideal, Zimmerman emphasized that it's still a good idea to get it to protect not only one's own health, but also the health of loved ones. Nationwide since October 1, 566 have been hospitalized for influenza and 148 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed.
The findings come from the Australian Government Department of Health, and more importantly for Central Texans, the flu shots used in the Australian study are made of the same components as the flu shots administered right here in Waco. According to the CDC, the best way *not* to get the flu, is to get vaccinated. The peak infection period of Influenza illness in New England occurs between January and February, though it can last as late as May.
"This year we are seeing a very rapid increase in influenza-like illness across MA, along with an increase in confirmed flu cases".
If you do get flu, keep it to yourself, Mills said.
"We want to continue to emphasize that vaccine is better than no vaccine and vaccine can prevent death, especially in children", Jackson said. It recommends everyone ages 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine, and experts recommend that people be vaccinated annually to cover new strains.
No doubt, the flu vaccine has saved millions and millions of lives over the last 80 years, but it's still a bit of a crap-shoot year to year.