San Juan County Health Official Frank James, M.D. sent out a “heads up” notice to local medical providers last week, asking that they be prepared for an increase in the number of cases of flu, and underscoring the importance of getting susceptible people vaccinated as soon as possible.
James wrote, “Flu activity was starting to pick up with activity in New York City and three Southern states as of Christmas day, and is likely to follow a typical pattern, peaking in late January or February.”
The County Health Department is also emphasizing the economic cost of remaining unvaccinated. A recent University of Pittsburg study found employers that sponsored early flu vaccination clinics saved from $34 to more than $700 in flu-related costs per employee vaccinated.
In his notice to health care providers, Dr. James noted that the circulating virus types, “so far, appear to be very well matched to the vaccine this year.” He added that the H3N2 strain of influenza that is circulating this year, “is more likely to cause more serious outcomes than H1N1 and more deaths in the very young and old are possible.”