Flu season isn’t over yet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the flu has surpassed the “epidemic threshold.” During one week in January, almost 10 percent of all deaths in the United States were the result of pneumonia and influenza. The CDC has observed an elevated number of flu cases in more than half the states.
“We likely reached our highest level of activity,” said Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the CDC’s Influenza Division.
Seniors have suffered from this year’s brutal flu season. About 198 out of every 100,000 people older than 65 years of age — roughly 86,000 seniors — have been hospitalized with the flu, according to the CDC. That’s the highest number since the government started keeping track.
Symptoms of the flu can include a sore throat, headaches, chills, and a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Many hoped that the flu vaccine would help them avoid the illness. Unfortunately, because of a mutation in the virus this year, the flu shot is only 23 percent effective. It’s only 14 percent effective for those over the age of 50.
The vaccine is normally between 50 and 60 percent effective.
Despite their proven benefits, flu shots — like any vaccine — can bear unwanted side effects for a small minority of people.
For instance, Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare but serious negative reaction that can occur following the flu shot. An autoimmune disease, GBS is characterized by the body’s nervous system attacking itself. GBS usually hits right after a respiratory or intestinal infection.
Those who suffer from GBS experience weakness and paralysis. GBS usually begins with a tingling or tickling in the feet that progresses up a person’s body. Folks then lose feeling in their lower limbs, their torso, and finally their upper limbs and face.
GBS is especially difficult to diagnose in infants. Because they don’t walk or sit up, doctors often miss the symptoms of GBS in infants altogether.
For those who suffer from GBS, or any other vaccine-related illness, there is help.
In 1988, the federal government created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The VICP offers financial assistance to individuals proven to have suffered a negative reaction as the result of a covered vaccine.
The VICP covers a number of vaccines. The most up-to-date list of covered vaccines can be accessed on the vaccine injury compensation table found on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The flu continues to affect thousands of Americans each week. Many will consider a last-second flu shot to try and avoid the illness. Others have already gotten the vaccine. But everyone should remember that the VICP can help in the rare case of side effects.
If you have suffered from a negative shot reaction, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shoulder pain, or any other illness subsequent to receiving a vaccination, please contact an attorney today. Vaccine attorney Leah Durant is available to provide you with a free telephone consultation. This vaccine attorney is a seasoned litigator whose practice is dedicated to serving those injured by vaccines.