Doctors concerned as 2017-18 flu season continues to worsen

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Doctors say it is the worst flu season in years. And while people deal with the symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control says this season is on track to rival the 2014-15 season that infected 34 million Americans.

So far, 37 children have died of the flu virus in 2018.

The sting of the shot lasts just a second, but it’s a vaccine that could save you lots of trouble down the road.

“This is a bad influenza season, but it’s not as out of the ordinary as you would expect,”

Researchers are taking note too.

They’re thinking ahead to next year and how the flu vaccine will be updated.

“The unusual thing about the flu vaccine, which is different than other vaccines, is we have to change it to keep pace with the virus,” Dr. Richard Webby, with the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, said.

Dr. Webby is one of the researches who help decide how the flu vaccine will be produced for next season.

“We will be headed to Geneva at the end of February for this meeting to try and figure out what strains will circulate next year,” the doctor said.

But getting an exact match for next year is tricky.

“This 3-n-2 virus that is causing all the disease this season has more unusual properties. It’s been very, very challenging to get that exact match,” Dr. Webby said.

Part of the problem with this year’s virus is when it goes into the manufacturing process, they change a little.

“Even if we start off with the right guess, what happens when we start to manufacture them is they change. And we end up in a place we don’t want to be,” Dr. Webby said.

Dr. Webby says the best advice for this flu season is “Pretend you grandmother is talking to you. So it’s wash those hands, cover coughs and sneezes and have good hygiene at home. Again, when you are sick don’t tough it out at work, stay home.