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Recent Flu Season Less Severe
Updated June 4, 2019
Experts considered this past season a milder, low-severity flu season compared with recent seasons, including the 2017–2018 season, which was believed to be one of the worst in years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity remained at high levels longer this season than in the past few seasons, though experts believe activity peaked nationally in mid-February. During the past season, there were fewer outpatient visits for flu-like illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths attributed to pneumonia and flu. Still, the CDC estimates that millions of people became sick from the flu, and tens of thousands were hospitalized or died.
The flu vaccine remains an important measure to protect yourself against the virus. In February, the CDC released a report on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine for last season, estimating the vaccine was about 47 percent effective in preventing vaccinated people in the U.S. from getting sick enough from the flu to need medical care.
Johns Hopkins experts recommend that everyone 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year. “The flu vaccine is the best intervention we have to help prevent you from catching the flu or reduce the severity if you do get sick as well as safeguard those around you,” says Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System and CEPAR’s senior adviser and subject matter expert for infectious disease, epidemiology and public health.
Our staff flu vaccine program also helps improve knowledge about the flu. The Johns Hopkins Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (JHCEIRS) enrolls Johns Hopkins employees willing to participate in flu research into their Occupational Health Vaccine Study, which seeks to understand the factors that make vaccines effective, or not. “Johns Hopkins employees enrolling in the JHCEIRS Occupational Health Vaccine Study often know firsthand how devastating influenza can be; in fact, many enrollees express excitement at having an opportunity to participate in scientific studies to improve the flu vaccine,” says Katherine Fenstermacher, program manager for the JHCEIRS center.
Other ways to prevent the flu include: