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Child flu death reported in Pitt County

Westport Weston Health District It's Still Flu Season

"We're seeing the big peak right now", she said. "We hopefully are approaching the peak but we may not be there yet".

Health officials say the flu is now widespread across the state. Seasons when H3N2 viruses dominate are typically harsh because the virus is especially hard on older adults.

While it's only about 65 percent effective in preventing the flu, the vaccine can decrease symptoms and severity if you do get sick.

"Whenever you see the incidence of flu increase dramatically as it has during the past two weeks, you're going to see more visits to physicians' offices, emergency rooms and urgent care centers", Morrow said.

This year is not an exception.

"There's a large amount of flu", Dr. Kidd said. "In the meantime, we support the people who are working in laboratories to make an even better influenza vaccine, which we hope will be available a few years down the road".

The most recent nationwide data on flu deaths as a percentage of all deaths is from three weeks ago when the rate was 7.9 percent across the United States and 8 percent in San Diego County.

Rita Espinoza, Metro Health chief of epidemiology, said the rise is not as high as it has been in previous years.

"Still, we can do a lot of good with a pretty good vaccine available today".

The vaccine, whose "recipe" is tweaked every year in anticipation of which strains will prove to be commonplace, protected people exposed to the flu 48 percent of the time.

Getting a flu shot can reduce the changes of getting the flu by 50-60 percent or more if the vaccine has similar viruses to the ones circulating in the community, officials said.

"The current flu vaccine is the best preventative measure we now have".

Overall vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B was 48% (95% CI 37%-57%) for the 2016-2017 influenza season thus far, according to the February 17 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Last week Canadian researchers reported they are seeing about 42 percent protection from the H3N2 component of the vaccine north of the border.

Jacqueline Katz, deputy director of the CDC's influenza division, said a theory behind the poor performance of the H3N2 component of the vaccine relates to the way flu vaccine is produced.

Of patients who tested positive for influenza, 45% had been vaccinated, while 55% of patients who tested negative for influenza had received the vaccine.