The U.S. is in the midst of a “moderately severe” flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Dave Feldman, chairman and medical director at the emergency department at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California, joins Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss what his hospital and others in the area are seeing.
On whether California’s flu season has been worse than “moderately severe”
“I’ll defer that definition to the CDC, but I can tell you for our experience in my emergency department and the hospitals in our area, we certainly are seeing record numbers of patients come to our hospital. In fact, in my hospital, in my emergency department, we’re seeing records of patient volumes set almost every day. So we’re certainly seeing a record season for us.”
On why California’s flu season has been worse than usual
“That is a great question. Part of it is, there are reports about the flu vaccine not matching up to a certain type of influenza A as well as it had done in the past. Although, if you refer to the CDC, it’s about 40 percent effective this given year. Other parts of the world may be as low as 10 percent, such as in Australia. But it’s a combination of flu becoming more of a global issue with people traveling and more access to different parts of the planet, as well as just, we’re just seeing a busy season.”
On encouraging people to get their flu shot
“Vaccination’s still very important, and the best step we can take to prevent, not only you from getting the flu, but even if you do get the flu, the severity of the symptoms are much less. So I often will hear from my patients that, ‘I got the flu vaccine, why am I getting the flu?’ And feeling discouraged. But they still did themselves a tremendous defense for their own health, because the intensity of the symptoms and duration of symptoms can be much less. So there’s still a lot of benefit, and the new vaccine that protects against four different types of influenza, you may get one subtype, but it protects you from getting … one of those other four, because patients can get sick with multiple types of influenza. The ones who are the most sick are the ones who often get two types of flu, not just one. So the vaccine still has tremendous benefit.”