ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – The CDC reported last winter was the worst flu season in decades. About 80,000 deaths were reported after the last spike was in 2013 when 56,000 people died. This comes after the flu vaccine wasn’t effective last year.
“Last year they knew they didn’t hit it right,” says Dr. Michael Barr at UnityPoint in Rock Island. “There were numerous strains that had to be hospitalized and there were a number of deaths associated with the flu strain.”
He urges people to prepare early this year.
“It seems like it’s going to hit sooner than it has in previous outbreaks” predicts Barr.
Flu season is right around the corner with peak season approaching in January. Some, like Sarah Mizer, plan to get their flu shot soon.
“You don’t want to get sick, so the best preventative medicine is the best kind of medicine I think,” says Mizer.
But others, like Curtis Hull, don’t even think about it.
“Yeah, I know I should get one. I just don’t ever do it,” comments Hull.
Barr says the elderly and children should be the most concerned.
“If you have elderly or people suffering from heart or breathing problems they are going to suffer from influenza pretty severely,” reports Barr.
Barr has seen an increase in flu patients the past two weeks – most of them in school age kids.
“Right now, with kids in school already, we are seeing children. But we have seen a few adults,” updates Barr.
Still, he’s optimistic the vaccine will be more effective.
“They did change the strains to better mimic the influenza that’s epidemic in the community. It should match with the current flu strength,” says Barr.
Just make sure to protect yourself in time.