By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia health officials say it’s not too late to get vaccinated for the flu.
Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz says we’re in the midst of an influenza epidemic, but it’s “not that unusual.”
“The vast majority, 98 percent plus, of the influenza circulating in Philadelphia is vaccine preventable,” says Schwarz.
The Centers for Disease Control indicates that the vaccine is about 62 percent effective. It doesn’t take with some folks who may not have a strong enough immune reaction.
Others may get the vaccine too late, and can’t form an immune reaction, before they get exposed to the virus.
“8.5 percent of emergency room visits in Philadelphia are influenza-like illness related,” says Schwarz.
Nearly 300 people in Philadelphia have been hospitalized, and there have been 4-deaths, so far this flu season.
“Other than the tragedy of it, there’s nothing unusual about the people in Philadelphia who have died from influenza,” Schwarz explains.
The best advice is to get the shot, avoid close contact with people if you’re sick, wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing.