With the winter season in full swing, many students have desperately tried to avoid the ongoing influenza epidemic. According to a report by the California Department of Public Health, it is not too late to get vaccinated.
It is recommended that everyone get a flu shot given the increase in flu activity in California, according to the latest FluView report, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The best defense against the flu is getting vaccinated,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in the report. “This year’s vaccine is an excellent match against this year’s influenza strains … Our flu season may not peak for several more weeks, so I encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect not only themselves, but those with whom they come into contact.”
According to Sharon E. Orrange, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, the flu season is still clearly on the rise, especially in Los Angeles.
“We are clearly on an upswing in Los Angeles on reported cases of the influenza A (H3N2) strain,” Orrange said. “The strain we have now has a history of being more aggressive.”
The effectiveness of the vaccine in defending people against the flu virus partially depends on how well the vaccine matches the strains of the virus prevalent during the flu season. According to the CDC, the predominant influenza A (H3N2) virus was tested to have a 99.4 percent match to the type of strain that the vaccine protects against. However, the match for the second-most common strain tested in the study, the influenza B virus, was found to have only a 66.7 percent match to the vaccine.
With the reports of influenza only increasing, Orrange warns that we have yet to see the last of this flu season.
“The flu started earlier this year than it has in over a decade,” Orrange said. “We haven’t peaked yet. We clearly will be going into February.”
Though some students may think that it is too late to get the vaccine, Orrange warns that they are still susceptible to the virus because of the extended flu season.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s still worth it to get the vaccination,” Orrange said.
Students interested in getting the flu vaccine can visit the new USC Engemann Student Health Center Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.