Health officials: flu season less severe than last - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Health officials: flu season less severe than last

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WSIL -- We're halfway through the Flu season, which runs from October or November until as late as May. But, there is some good news. 

Rhonda Schmidt, Director of Nursing for Southern Seven Health Department, says typically each flu season has two peaks and we've hit both, "There was one peak in the season in December around Christmas time, and then there’s been another peak in the season, which was about a week ago." 

She says the timing of this flu season's peaks compared to last are almost identical, but this season is significantly less severe. One of the reasons is the type of influenza circulating.

"H3N2 Influenza A was very, very prevalent last year," Schmidt explains. "This year has mostly been the H1N1, when it’s been typed out for the testing." 

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 312 cases of H1N1 have been reported in the state compared to only 38 cases of H3N2. Although the symptoms are the same H1N1 is less severe than H3N2. 

Schmidt says, another contributing factor to this flu season having fewer confirmed cases, is that this year's flu shot is more effective. 

"(Last season) there was kinda a little mutation in the virus that circulated around and so we weren’t as protected," she explains. "They did change the vaccine this year, they changed the H3N2 component." 

If you still haven't gotten your flu shot for this season, Schmidt still recommends getting vaccinated. Several health departments still have the flu vaccine available such as Southern Seven and Williamson-Franklin bi-county health departments. It's also available at local pharmacies.

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