You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. Some patients believe they can protect themselves by boosting their immune systems, eating well and making sure they sleep better, she said.
However, Australia also experienced significant cases of influenza B, said Skowronski, and parts of Canada appear to be mimicking that pattern in the early months of the Northern hemisphere's flu season. Australia, which uses the same type of vaccine and generally has its flu season during the US summer, is seeing record high numbers of cases and higher hospitalizations. The flu usually peaks in January or February, but it can occur as early as October and as late as May.
Compared to this time a year ago, experts say there are double the number of confirmed cases of the flu. A typical case can last close to a week; serious complications include dehydration and pneumonia. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that all people 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu vaccine.
"The most predictable thing about flu is that it's unpredictable", Brammer said. As health officials rushed to contain the outbreak, the CDC admitted that the 2014 flu vaccine did not protect well against H3N2 - it had just seven percent chance of protection.
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"It makes me a little sad that people across the country - especially pregnant women - may not be getting the recommended and appropriate health care", Altmann said.
"If you're not excited about getting vaccinated yourself, do it for the people you love", Mills said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several strains of influenza virus are in circulation.
"But we can not say we will go on to experience the kind of severe season Australia had, in part because we ourselves had a fairly severe epidemic due to H3N2 in 2016-17", Skowronski said.
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Some people are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, including infants, children, elders and people with certain chronic health issues.
She urged the Ministry of Health and Welfare to put the plan on hold until it has evaluated demand for the vaccines and secured funding to cover the costs of sourcing, delivering and administering them.
And while it may not work well against H3N2, she said it's worth getting the shot for protection against infection with H1N1 and even the B strain (the B/Victoria components may offer cross-protection against B/Yamagata).
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