The New York State Department of Health has declared that the 2014-2015 influenza season has officially ended, citing a marked decrease in influenza-like illnesses (ILI). As a result, unvaccinated health care workers in both hospital and home settings are no longer required to wear flu masks.
While the flu is still active throughout the summer months, public health officials say that cases are extremely rare during this time and urge anyone who suspects they are suffering from ILI to minimize contact with children under 6 months of age, the elderly and other potentially vulnerable individuals.
This year health officials have more reason than normal to breathe a sigh of relief as temperatures rise. In the early months of the ’14 – ’15 flu season, doctors realized that more than half of all ILI-related hospitalizations were caused by “drifting” strains of influenza A, meaning that the nationally-distributed flu vaccines did not protect against these versions of the virus.
Because flu vaccines typically take four to six months to synthesize using contemporary methods, there was little the medical community could do to compensate for this viral drift.
Despite this setback, the CDC reports several interesting facts about this season:
2014-’15 was the longest flu season in more than a decade. This season lasted 20 weeks, compared to 19 weeks or less in the past 13 years.
Since October 1, 2014, there were a total of 17,882 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in the US, translating to an overall rate of 65.4 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, up considerably from the 2013-’14 season, which saw 43.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
Interestingly, this season saw the highest pneumonia and influenza-related mortality rate in week 2, when 9.3% of those hospitalized with ILI failed to recover. This is a marked improvement from 2013-’15, which saw a peak mortality rate of 9.9%.
While most states are showing minimal ILI activity, the CDC reports that Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York are still showing somewhat elevated rates. Despite conditions in New York State, New York City has proven particularly resilient and is showing “minimal” flu activity.
SelectCare’s staff is incredibly proud of the efforts of our caregivers, who took great pains to minimize their clients’ exposure to influenza this season. Several SelectCare caregivers sacrificed shifts to ensure they did not expose their clients to possible influenza infections, and 83.2% of our caregivers and administrative staff received flu vaccines. Of those who abstained, the vast majority were either allergic to the vaccine, pregnant or have one or more medical conditions that made taking the vaccine unsafe.
SelectCare’s staff members take infection prevention seriously and understand the role we all have in minimizing infection rates by receiving vaccines and limiting our clients’ exposure to possible influenza vectors. To learn more about how we can make a difference in the lives of you or your loved ones, call us today