Influenza is hitting hard across the country. The season started early and now hospitals are having a hard time keeping up with the tidal wave of severely sick people. Emergency rooms are overflowing with patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three-fourths of the people who have been tested so far have had the H3N2 strain of influenza A. H3N2 can cause severe illness, which may explain why so many people are under the weather.
In theory, this year’s influenza vaccine is a good match for the strains that are circulating, including H3N2 type A influenza. Although public health officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, the immunization does not provide perfect protection. That may explain why some people who were vaccinated have come down with a flu-like illness.
Based on analyses from previous years, one might expect that even a good match can offer protection for about two thirds of senior citizens who get the shot. Those who do come down with flu may want to ask about an antiviral drug such as Tamiflu. This drug may shorten the duration of symptoms.
We offer other approaches to symptom relief and explain why drugstore flu remedies are not helpful in our Guide to Colds, Coughs & the Flu.