This year's flu season: Public health catastrophe or par for the course?

Flu season came fast and hard this year and as kids are headed back into classrooms next week doctors are urging people to get vaccinated

This week, 82 outbreaks were reported bringing this flu season's total to 241 outbreaks.

Tamiflu is a safe and effective drug for reducing the severity of influenza for patients of all ages, including children, officials say.

On Thursday, Centra Care Shawnee Mission Urgent Care was giving away free flu shots at four Johnson County locations.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, state flu activity remains widespread. The CDC IFI surveillance has shown that, for our region, January is typically the peak time for flu activity.

Despite reports of shortages of vaccines and antiviral medications in some parts of the country, local, state, and federal health officials on Thursday confirmed to Newsday that no such shortages have been identified in NY.

Green said Flu A still is the prominent type of the influenza viruses at 77 percent.

"People still should continue to get vaccinated, since the flu season often lasts through the end of March, early April, or even later", she said.

Sandra Archer with Shawnee Mission Health said it's not too late for a flu shot to help.

The flu season typically lasts from October through May.

The increased number of cases and hospitalizations occurred despite efforts by public officials, including Cuomo, and medical professionals to encourage New Yorkers to get flu vaccines and practice good hygiene to reduce the flu risk.

While Dr. Anupama Neelakanta, M.D., who works with infection prevention and epidemiology for Carolinas HealthCare System, was reluctant to use the word epidemic, she said this year has been a severe season. "We want to do everything that we can to assist those who are sick and prevent others from becoming sick". The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. "Make sure you are having as little contact you need to have with your household members because you don't want them to become infected".

To stay well, wash your hands, cover your cough, and avoid touching your face, which is how the virus can get into your body.

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