WASHINGTON — The Maryland Department of Health reported the first flu death of the season. The state is currently one of only two in the country with widespread flu activity, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This year, the rollout of the flu vaccine was delayed at least a month after the World Health Organization in March made late changes to its annual forecast on what strains of the flu are most likely to spread.
WUSA9's Verify team received at least six complaints from people who said they cannot find the high-dose vaccine they need, and confirmed that the complaints are linked to the delay in the roll-out of the vaccines, though supplies for the season are predicted to be adequate as tens of millions more doses are shipped out from manufacturers impacted by the WHO’s changed recommendations.
WATCH: Is there a shortage of high dose flu vaccines in the DMV?
The Maryland Department of Health reports the flu vaccine is now “widely available”.
Currently, it is too early to tell just how severe the 2019-2020 flu season will be, according to an analysis by Medical Economics.
Here is what you need to know:
- If your children were not vaccinated at the beginning of school because the vaccine was not available, it is time to call your pediatrician and try again. Do not give up or forget.
- While the flu season is now underway, it does not normally reach its peak until January and February, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. It is never too late to get vaccinated, the CDC says.
- Children younger than 6 months old are at high risk of serious flu complications but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Therefore, it's especially important for all other household members to get vaccinated and take precautions to avoid exposing infants to flu, the CDC reports.
- Even if you do get the flu after being vaccinated, studies have shown that a flu vaccine can reduce the severity of your illness.
- A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.
- A 2018 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu.
Flu outbreaks in the Southern Hemisphere can often give a clue as to how the flu may perform when it arrives in the U.S. Experts at Harvard believe the U.S. may experience an active and possibly severe flu season during 2019 and 2020.
John Ross, a contributing editor at Harvard Health Publishing, noted that the projection was based on data from Australia, where a record number of cases was reported. The flu was confirmed in more than 300,000 patients in Australia.
The flu is also a constantly moving target. Because of the many strains and varieties of the flu, and because the flu can mutate during the course of a season, scientists are challenged to make exact predictions, according to the CDC.
The World Health Organization normally reports vaccine recommendations to manufacturers in February, according to BioPharma reporter.com.
However, in 2019 the emergence of a distinct form of one strain forced the WHO to delay its recommendation by a month.