In the U.K., emergency rooms like those at Queen Alexandra Hospital have been characterized as “chaotic” with waits of longer than five hours and lines of more than 20 ambulances. Portsmouth Hospital’s NHS Trust Medical Director Dr. John Knighton said the hospital faced an “unprecedented “number of admissions with rising cases of flu.
The situation isn’t much better in the U.S., where 36 states are reporting high flu outbreak levels, according to the CDC. In Oregon, for example, 120 people were hospitalized for flu the week ending December 23 – a big rise over the 85 flu hospitalizations the week before. Experts say one big factor in this chaos has been the flu vaccine’s poor efficacy.
University of Tennessee Medical Center Infection Prevention Manager Jennifer Radtke told USA Today: "It's just one of those years where the CDC is seeing that this strain of flu is only somewhat covered by the vaccine. They're seeing that it's anywhere from 10 to 33 percent effective, so anytime there’s a mismatch between the vaccine and the circulating strain of the flu, you’re going to see more cases."
On top of that, flu shots actually weaken a person’s immune response to future flu jabs, which means that those who get the shots regularly find them even less effective over time. They also contain mercury and have been linked to spontaneous abortions in pregnant women, making it a very risky option that brings so little reward.
Indeed, an Oregon Health Authority physician said the flu virus mutates so rapidly that the vaccine is a “roll of the dice each year.” This year’s dominant strain, known as H3N2 and referred to as “Australian flu”, is one of the hardest to vaccinate against, with one study showing the current flu vaccine was just 10 percent effective.
Idaho has registered more deaths related to flu at this time in the season than any other of the last seven flu seasons as experts say the flu is particularly severe this year.
In California, meanwhile, the number of flu-related deaths quadrupled in just one week in San Diego County, where the deaths included a one-year-old boy who had been “partially” vaccinated. There have been eight times the number of cases seen last year so far, and supervisors are mulling declaring a local health emergency. Emergency rooms in San Diego saw long waits, with some hospitals setting up “flu tents” in parking lots to take pressure off ER waiting rooms.
Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come as states like Idaho normally experience peaks in January to early February.
If you’re worried about the flu, the best thing you can do is avoid contact with infected people, wash your hands frequently, and ensure you eat a healthy diet full of immune-boosting foods. Some experts have identified probiotics, vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C as particularly good nutrients to focus on when trying to boost your immunity to protect against cold and flu, while getting adequate sleep and exercise remain important. If you already have the flu, be sure to stay home, avoid contact with babies and the elderly, and cover your mouth when you cough to avoid contributing to this growing outbreak.