Written by Loren Grush
Two words are at the top of most American’s minds this winter: flu season.
According to the most recent weekly flu advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. is experiencing a particularly nasty flu season this year, with 29 states reporting high levels of “influenza-like illness.”
More specifically, the proportion of people visiting doctors and physicians for flu-like symptoms has climbed from 2.8 percent to 5.6 percent in just four weeks – compared to the peak rate of 2.2 percent for the 2011 – 2012 season.
The virus causing the most problems: A particular strain of type A influenza called H3N2 has been the most predominantly reported this year. Luckily, this year’s flu vaccine is very well matched to H3N2, which has been historically associated with more severe illness.
And yet, many people still don’t get the flu shot.
The CDC recommends everyone who is over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine. The people most at risk for developing complications from the flu include people over the age of 65, pregnant women, and those with asthma, emphysema and chronic lung disease. However, the majority of Americans do not get the flu shot each year – with only 46 percent getting the vaccine by the end of March 2012. And, the success rates are fairly positive – flu shots were shown to be 67 percent effective in preventing the flu.
So why do so many people skip getting the vaccine? According to one doctor, people do not actively reject the vaccine. Instead they are merely unsure of whether or not they really need it.
Myths vs. facts
“There’s a growing problem called ‘vaccine hesitancy,’” Dr. Frank Esper, a viral respiratory disease expert at UH Case Medical Center in Ohio, told FoxNews.com. “They’re not truly against getting the shot. But, with all these people online saying, ‘Watch out for this, be careful about that,’ – they’re hesitant to receive the flu vaccine, and then they never get it done.”