With state officials calling for flu vaccinations, Memorial hosting event Monday

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Statewide, there have been 92 deaths and 2,509 hospitalizations attributed to the flu, according to an Oklahoma State Department of Health report released Thursday.

This year's flu season is rivaling the worst in recent years, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

While the flu season usually peaks between December and February, "It is not looking like we have reached the peak", said Ron Pundt, Coryell Memorial Healthcare System laboratory director.

She said people have a tendency to believe that if a seasonal flu vaccine is only 20 to 30 per cent effective, then it's not worth getting.

Schools have been reporting influenza-like illness as well as confirmed cases in long-term care facilities, and people presenting to clinics with influenza-like illness. If that trend holds, the nation "may well exceed" that earlier record, he said.

During the previous week the rate for Central New York was less than 50 cases per 100,000 people.

This season's H3N2 strain of the flu virus is said to be extremely serious, even deadly, and not just for those in higher risk categories but also to generally healthy people.

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The mid-season estimate for the vaccine's ability to provide protection from this particular influenza strain is in line with what Australia experienced during the southern hemisphere's flu season, which ended in late August as Canada's was about to begin.

Joseph Bushra, chief of emergency medicine at Lankenau Medical Center, doesn't need the state reports to know flu is in our midst.

In all likelihood, several weeks of high flu activity are still in store.

"Almost half our patients have flu symptoms", said Sara Shaffer, LPN at Convenient Care. The agency also reported that the deaths of the 16 children over the past week brings the total number of pediatric deaths attributed to the flu to 53 so far this season.

The H3N2 strain causing the most illnesses is proving hard to fight through vaccines, with a Canadian study released last month finding that the vaccine reporting its less than 20 percent effective against the strain. The flu shot may also lead to less severe symptoms among those who come down with the illness.

Last year, the Trump administration proposed sweeping cuts to the NIH and the CDC. The best time to get the vaccine is before the flu starts spreading in your community, but now that the flu is prevalent here, it is not too late to vaccinate. Already sick and struggling to fill a prescription for antiviral meds? "It's critical that we continue to invest in this science", he says.

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