Modified: November 21, 2022 2:29pm
EARLY REPORTS FROM CDC SHOW CURRENT FLU VACCINE IS A GOOD MATCH AGAINST CIRCULATING INFLUENZA VIRUSES
Lab-confirmed statewide case totals to date surpass previous two seasons combined
ERIE COUNTY, NY – Wondering if it’s worth getting a flu vaccine? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicate that the 2022-2023 influenza season flu vaccine formulations are a good match to protect against the currently circulating flu viruses.
“We will keep repeating the importance of getting a flu vaccine and reducing your risk of transmitting respiratory illnesses for one reason: it saves lives,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “When it comes to flu, any degree of protection against a debilitating infection is worth it.”
“Spending time with family is such a central part of the holiday season,” she continued. “With a quick trip to a local pharmacy, you can prevent days of feeling ill and missing out on time with family and friends. It is also a way to avoid lost time from work and for children, days at school and sports activities.”
New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) data through November 12, 2022 (week 45) show an astonishing number of lab-confirmed flu cases statewide, especially in comparison to previous influenza seasons. In a comparable year – 2019-2020 – there were 276 lab-confirmed flu cases in New York State. This year, the statewide influenza case total was 11,696, which is more than 40 times the 2019-2020 influenza case numbers. This is a remarkable difference.
Statewide flu-related hospitalizations showed a significant and atypical increase through November 12, 2022. Of all NY regions, Western New York had the highest incidence of flu-related hospitalizations per 100,000 population. WNY also had the second-highest total hospitalizations by region, around 230 patients for the week ending November 12.
Erie County cases accounted for about 14% of the statewide total. All but a few cases were identified as influenza type A, which is typical for this time of year. The 1,647 flu cases among Erie County residents this season has already surpassed the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 season totals – combined.
It is worth noting, too, that these data only show lab-confirmed flu cases. Most people with flu are either not tested or their test results are not reported through the NYS system. So, these numbers undercount the true burden of disease.
If past influenza seasons are any indication, New York and Erie County will not see a peak in flu infections until January or February 2023, time during which case totals and rate of community spread may continue to increase. “Do not delay,” said Dr. Burstein. “You should get your flu vaccine annually each fall, and there is no better time than right now.”
CDC conducts genetic and antigenictesting of flu samples from state and local health departments. Genetic testing identifies specific influenza virus strains, or variants. Antigenic testing indicates whether the flu vaccine produces an immune response against a specific influenza virus. See “Key Points” in the most recent Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (November 18, 2022).
Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH), Flu: www.erie.gov/flu
ECDOH, Get a flu vaccine, it’s not too late: https://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=press/get-flu-vaccine-%E2%80%93-it%E2%80%99s-not-too-late
NYSDOH, Flu Tracker: https://nyshc.health.ny.gov/web/nyapd/new-york-state-flu-tracker
CDC, Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
CDC, Flu FAQs: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm
Where to get a flu vaccine: https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines