Why Is Florida Seeing Fewer Flu Cases?

This flu season, you might have noticed fewer people using their sick days.

There have been significantly fewer flu cases this season than there were last season, said Dr. Nicole Iovine, a University of Florida Health doctor who specializes in infectious diseases.

She said this time last season, there were about 8,000 flu cases in the U.S. — compared to only 400 this year.

“The difference is enormous,” Iovine said.

Florida has also seen this trend, in part because this season’s flu vaccine is targeting the most dominant strains better than last season’s did, Iovine said.

At this time last season, 6 percent of patients reported they had flu-like illnesses when they visited Florida outpatient departments, like doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. This month, only 2 percent of patients reported to have flu-like illnesses, wrote Elizabeth Powers, the senior community health nursing director for the Florida Department of Health in Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist Counties, in an email.

Powers said local health departments used to focus on flu shots for the elderly. A few years ago they learned that vaccinating school-age children, who spread the virus, limits the number of flu cases more effectively.

That’s why local areas, like Alachua and Levy counties, provide the FluMist vaccine to school children with parent consent, she said.

Read more here.

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