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Americans should be preparing for a doozy of a flu season, professor says


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Be prepared for a virulent flu season this year, suggested Kevin Harrod,  professor in the UAB Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. Recent reports show that Australia has seen its worst flu season on record. And Harrod says what happens in the southern hemisphere is usually indicative of what type of flu season will occur in the northern hemisphere.

“These data tell us that we should see a worse than average flu season,” Harrod said. “But, with all things influenza, there’s a lot we don’t know.”

Harrod says this year’s vaccines are combating the H3N2 strain and B strains of influenza. He added that H3N2 viruses cause worse disease in the elderly and young children, and that they are associated with a high hospitalization rate.

With all the knowledge and scientific research about influenza, Harrod says it is extremely difficult to perfectly forecast which strains are used to create vaccines.

“There are always a few strains circulating that aren’t predominant, but can become predominant — especially in populations of high immunization,” he said. “So, it’s difficult for public health officials to predict which strains will circulate. For that reason, not every vaccine is a perfect match.


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