Wisconsin has seen a recent dramatic increase in the number of hospitalizations resulting from the flu. State epidemiologist Tom Haupt said that includes more admissions to intensive care units. He’s also a little concerned about the age groups that are being affected.
“This H1N1 that’s causing the flu this year is really affecting the younger and middle-aged adults the most, compared to last year where the elderly were the most affected,” Haupt said.
There have already been 565 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported since October 5, with 22 percent admitted to the ICU and 9 percent requiring ventilation. Out of the initial 100 admissions reviewed, Haupt says about 90 percent of the patients had not received an influenza vaccination.
“There seems to be a myth going around this year that because the 2009 H1N1 has been in the vaccine for years, that if you had previous vaccinations you’re going to be covered. You have some protection but not full protection, as we’re seeing this year,” Haupt said.
Haupt is urging anyone who hasn’t yet received a flu shot to get one. “It’s still not too late. There is vaccine available, and we’re hoping that it’s going to be a good year as far as vaccine efficacy. It does seem to be a good match with the vaccine strain and what’s actually circulating.”
Although deaths caused by influenza are reportable only among pediatric patients, flu-associated fatalities among non-vaccinated young and middle-aged adults have also been noted.