Long-term care facilities across the country are being hit hard by the seasonal flu, partly due to a problem with this year’s vaccine. This year, the main virus strain is H3N2, which is especially dangerous for older adults. During the first week of January, people 65 and older were hospitalized at a rate of 91.6 per 100,000, according to the CDC. Additionally, as opposed to the flu vaccine’s effectiveness at 60% during good years, this year’s vaccine is only 23% effective at warding off the flu. Researchers say the dominant virus strain is “drifted,” meaning that it underwent genetic changes and is therefore resistant to the vaccine that was developed in the spring. Because the flu does not peak at the same time every year, it is possible that this season will improve going forward, but it could also worsen. The CDC urges all Americans to get vaccinated and recommends that healthcare providers begin antiviral treatments promptly if the flu is suspected in people at high risk for complications or death.
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