ANCHORAGE - The flu is once again making people sick across Alaska. But this year, flu season is ahead of schedule.
State health officials report that the influenza virus is once again spreading statewide, and the number of reported flu cases began going up in November and December.
Every year, three different strains of the virus go into making the vaccine. Those three strains are chosen based on predictions from scientists worldwide about which strains will be most prevalent.
DHSS says the H3N2 strain of the virus is what's making people sick this year, but state epidemiologists say that’s good news, because it’s one of the strains built into this year’s batch of vaccine.
“The strain we're seeing here in Alaska, and strains we're seeing nationally, match very well the strains that the influenza vaccine protects against,” said Dr. Brian Yablon, an epidemiologist with the state. “We call that a good match.”
“So getting a flu vaccine, which is always a good thing to do, is an especially good bet this year, as it has a high likelihood of protecting against the strains that are circulating in the community.”
Epidemiologists say young children, pregnant women and the elderly are most susceptible to the flu. To learn how to vaccinate yourself and your family, visit the DHSS influenza website.