Flu Cases Down 96% From a Year Ago

Posted: 10:43 AM, Jan 09, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-09 10:43:27-05

This time last year, Ted O'Dell had to wear a mask while visiting a friend at Sparrow Hospital. 

"He was admitted for some other issues, but while he was there he had come down with the flu as well and had not received a flu shot last year," O'Dell explained. 

He told FOX 47 News he couldn't let his friend go though the misery again because he's been there, too. 

"I pretty much lived on the couch for three days, so yeah, not a pretty sight," O'Dell explained. "I think it was back in early September or October and we both went to the local drug store and received our flu shots at the same time."

If you haven't gotten your yet, the Health Department said now is the time because it takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect. 

"That's not to say that you don't have any defense for those two weeks, you do have better than not having the flu shot at all; but, you do want to give yourself those two weeks to allow your immune system to be fully prepared," said Angela Minicuci of the Department of Health & Human Services. 

Because the peak of flu season is just around the corner. 

Minicuci explained, "The flu tends to peak in January and February, so there's a good chance that cases may start to pop up more and more."

So far, the state has only had 12 hospitalizations this year, which is much lower than the 325 in 2015. 

"The efficacy rate, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine last year, was much lower. It wasn't a good match. So, because of that, there is the chance that there's a better flu vaccine match this year to the strains that are out there," Minicuci explained. 

And, the milder winter may have played a role. 

"It could be something with the amount of people that are traveling and what kind of interactions they've had, and it could be just the general health of the population," Minicuci added. 

Answers we won't have until flu season is over. 

In addition to the vaccine, the Health Department suggests washing your hands, wiping down counter tops and door knobs and staying physically active to boost your immune system.